(BRUSSELS) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Afghanistan to stop dragging its feet and finally get on board with the U.S. on a bilateral security agreement that will help to keep the country secure after virtually all coalition forces pull out next year.
Hagel made his comments to reporters before arriving at a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, where he spoke Tuesday with his Afghan counterpart on the sidelines.
Kabul has signed off on most of the particulars of the pact, which would help to guarantee that up to 10,000 American troops would remain in Afghanistan after next year although their role would be predominantly advisory.
However, the U.S. and Afghanistan have not yet agreed on a major sticking point, that is, Washington’s insistence that U.S. soldiers are immune from prosecution under Afghan law. Without that provision, the Obama administration would likely pull out of the deal.
At least one senior military U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed confidence that the bilateral agreement would gain the approval of Afghan tribal leaders and the Afghan parliament.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN