Afghanistan, US sign long-awaited security pact

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Afghanistan, US sign long-awaited security pact
Georgian troops march during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
Georgian troops march during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
A Georgian soldier touches the head of his daughter during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
A Georgian soldier, back to a camera, and his relative embrace each other after a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Georgian troops will take part in the NATO peace support mission in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
International Security Assistance Forces take party in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
An International Security Assistance Force musician performs during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC), Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, right, and commander of International Security Assistance Force, General John F. Campbell, center, salute during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) looks on as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) heads to his podium for a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on December 6, 2014. An additional 1,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan next year to meet a temporary shortfall in NATO forces, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said December 6 during a visit to Kabul. AFP PHOTO/WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The International Security Assistance Forces band plays during flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
U.S. Ambassador to James Cunningham, seated, signs the documents of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) at the presidential palace as Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, first right, and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, second right, watch, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States signed a long-awaited security pact on Tuesday that will allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghanistan's national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar, second right, and NATO ambassador to Afghanistan Maurits Jochems, left, shake hands at the signing of the NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement at the presidential palace, as Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, center, and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, second left, attend in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States signed a long-awaited security pact on Tuesday that will allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghan (R) shakes hands with deputy commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) German Army Lt. General Carsten Jacobson (L) after signing of documents to allow some US troops to stay in Afghanistan at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States on September 30 signed a deal to allow some US troops to stay in the country next year, signalling that new President Ashraf Ghani intends to mend frayed ties with Washington. Hamid Karzai, who stepped down as president on September 29, refused to sign the deal in a disagreement that symbolised the breakdown of Afghan-US relations after the optimism of 2001 when the Taliban were ousted from power. Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador James Cunningham inked the document at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Kabul as Ghani stood behind the pair looking on. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is greeted by Regional Command-East Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend, right, at at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Four U.S. governors made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Saturday as part of a delegation to receive counterterrorism briefings and greet troops stationed there. Cuomo, along with Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, traveled with officials from the U.S. Department of Defense, which sponsored the trip, Cuomo's office said. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Master Sgt. Kap Kim)
Tyson Hicks, 2, holds an American flag while embraced by his father Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel Hicks upon returning from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Macon, Ga. Two hundred Guardsmen returned home Tuesday from a nine-month deployment where they provided security and facilitated the transfers of U.S. military installations to their Afghan counterparts. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An International Security Assistance Force stands guard during a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011. There are around 15,000 troops now in the country.(AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Outgoing commander of ISAF, U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, first right, and incoming U.S. Army Commander for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), Gen. John F. Campbell, first left, sit after the change of command ceremony at the ISAF Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. ISAF is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan that was established by the United Nations Security Council in 2001. It will end its mission at the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghanistan's presidential election candidates Abdullah Abdullah, left, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, right, shake hands after signing a power-sharing deal at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Afghanistan's two presidential candidates signed a power-sharing deal Sunday, capped with a hug and a handshake, three months after a disputed runoff that threatened to plunge the country into turmoil and complicate the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
An Afghan man films Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who will become president, on screen at right, and Abdullah Abdullah as they sign a power-sharing deal on national TV in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates signed a power-sharing deal on Sunday, three months after a disputed runoff that threatened to plunge the country into turmoil and complicate the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghan (R) shakes hands with deputy commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) German Army Lt. General Carsten Jacobson (L) after signing of documents to allow some US troops to stay in Afghanistan at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 30, 2014. Afghanistan and the United States on September 30 signed a deal to allow some US troops to stay in the country next year, signalling that new President Ashraf Ghani intends to mend frayed ties with Washington. Hamid Karzai, who stepped down as president on September 29, refused to sign the deal in a disagreement that symbolised the breakdown of Afghan-US relations after the optimism of 2001 when the Taliban were ousted from power. Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador James Cunningham inked the document at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Kabul as Ghani stood behind the pair looking on. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures a salute during the swearing in ceremony for Ashraf Ghani as the country's president at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 29, 2014. Ashraf Ghani, a one-time US-based academic, was sworn in as the new president of Afghanistan on September 29, taking power as NATO troops end their 13-year war without defeating the fierce Taliban insurgency. Abdullah was also sworn in as chief executive, a new role similar to a prime minister, in a government structure far different to Karzai's all-powerful presidency. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan and the United States signed a security pact on Tuesday to allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year, ending a year of uncertainty over the fate of foreign troops supporting Afghanis as they take over responsibility for the country's security.

Afghan, American and NATO leaders welcomed the deal, which will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends Dec. 31. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign it despite U.S. threats of a full withdrawal in the absence of legal protections for American forces. U.S. officials have said that the delay in the deal's signing does not affect plans for next year.

President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who was sworn into office a day earlier, told a crowd assembled at the presidential palace in the capital Kabul for the signing ceremony that the agreement signaled a fundamental shift for the positive in the country's relations with the world.

"This agreement is only for Afghan security and stability," he said in comments broadcast live on state television. "These agreements are in our national interest. The Bilateral Security Agreement will pave the ground for Afghanistan to take control," he added.

Newly appointed Afghan national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham signed the actual document. A second agreement allowing NATO troops to stay in the country was also signed during the same ceremony.

Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has assumed a post akin to prime minister after signing a power-sharing agreement with Ghani Ahmadzai, also welcomed the security deal.

"It has been signed after very careful considerations," he said, adding that "the BSA is not a threat to our neighbors. It will help strengthen peace and stability in the region."

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the agreement, saying it outlined the group's new mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.

"We remain committed to help finance the Afghan security forces through 2017, to help Afghanistan to further strengthen its institutions, and to further develop our political and practical cooperation with Afghanistan through our Enduring Partnership," he said in a statement.

In a statement, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the deal an "important step forward."

"These agreements will enable American and coalition troops to continue to help strengthen Afghan forces, counter terrorist threats, and advance regional security," he said.

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