Statement by the President of the United States on the Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2014
Statement by the President on the Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan
Today we mark an historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan. After nearly two years of hard work by negotiating teams on both sides, earlier today in Kabul the United States and the new Afghan Government of National Unity signed a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). This agreement represents an invitation from the Afghan Government to strengthen the relationship we have built over the past 13 years and provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out two critical missions after 2014: targeting the remnants of Al Qaeda and training, advising, and assisting Afghan National Security Forces. The signing of the BSA also reflects the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement our two governments signed in May 2012.
Today, Afghan and NATO officials also signed the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, giving forces from Allied and partner countries the legal protections necessary to carry out the NATO Resolute Support mission when ISAF comes to an end later this year.
These agreements follow an historic Afghan election in which the Afghan people exercised their right to vote and ushered in the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in their nation’s history. The BSA reflects our continued commitment to support the new Afghan Unity Government, and we look forward to working with this new government to cement an enduring partnership that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability, unity, and prosperity, and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates.
This day was only possible because of the extraordinary service of our men and woman in uniform who continue to sacrifice so much in Afghanistan on behalf of our security and the Afghan people. The American people are eternally grateful for their efforts.
KABUL (Pajhwok): Kabul and Washington on Tuesday signed a long-delayed security pact allowing the presence of a residual American force, number around 9,500, in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
Also on Tuesday, the new government of national unity inked a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO, whose combat mission in the country is scheduled to end this year.
National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar signed the vital security accords with US Ambassador James B. Cunningham and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Maurits R. Jochems.
President Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah, the two vice-presidents, cabinet members and jihadi leaders were also present at the signing ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ahmadzai said Afghanistan would maintain its complete sovereignty under the deal aimed at ensuring the country’s security and warding off threats.
The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was in the best interest of peace in Afghanistan, region and the world at large, he said, insisting the agreement would help strengthen Afghan security forces.
“Fortunately, Afghanistan remains the centre of international attention even today,” he said, referring to the common challenge of terrorism and security.
He went on to assuage concerns over the continued American military presence among Afghanistan’s neighbours. “Aimed to ensure our security, this accord poses no threat to anyone.”
He added that his predecessor Hamid Karzai, Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and then security advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta had minutely studied the BSA text to ensure the protection of Afghanistan’s interest.
He thanked members of last year’s consultative loya jirga, chaired by then president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, for approving the pact, which could be amended by mutual consent.
Ahmadzai assured the nation that nighttime raids and civilian house searches would end, as international troops prepare to draw down.
CEO Abdullah also hailed the agreement signing as giant step toward stability in the country. The well-deliberated deals had been signed after long discussions based on Afghanistan’s security requirements, he remarked.
He believed the step would have positive effects on the overall security environment in Afghanistan and the wider region. The people would soon realise significance of the pacts, he predicted.
For his part, Cunningham pledged full respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and said they wanted to train and advise Afghan security forces. It would pave the ground for continued US and international aid, he noted.
The US remained committed to Afghanistan and the BSA signing would facilitate aid delivery and training of Afghan forces, he noted. The loya jirga’s decision had proved that an overwhelming majority of Afghans supported the deal, he said.
The NATO representative voiced pleasure over signing the deal on behalf of the Western military alliance. After the end of 2014, NATO personnel would only advise the Afghan forces on how to combat terrorists, he explained.
He insisted the NATO and American presence would translate in Afghanistan’s long-term stability on the one hand and economic prosperity on the other. SOFA signing was also a demand of the Afghan private sector.