Sunday, 22 April 2012

U.S./Afganistan Finalize Afghan Strategic Partnership Treaty

The long awaited Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Treaty has been finalized by U.S. and Afghan officials on Sunday, clearing the way for NATO troops to exit Afghanistan.

The Treaty, which deals with the residual U.S. force after withdrawal, the training and maintenance of Afghan Security Forces was in danger of collapsing based on the funding guarantee given by the U.S.  Earlier this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had demanded that the U.S commit in writing to at least $2Billion out of the estimated $4.2 Billion needed to fund Afghanistan.

While Afghan forces are expected to level at 228,500 by 2017, they are expected to grow to 352,000 soldiers and police officers this year, but the future size is under discussion.  A force of this size has to be funded, trained, equipped and paid.  The price tag for the force is approximately $4.1 Billion, of which the United States is expected to pay $2.3 Billion.  The remainder is to be split among NATO allies and the Afghan government.

President Obama will be hosting a NATO Summit in May and U.S. and Afghan officials expect the treaty to signed before then.  According to officials the most contentious issues have been removed from the treaty and will be addressed in separate Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). 

"The document finalized today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region,"

According to Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the agreement had taken more than a year and a half of work.  

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