February 25, 2014

Ready to sign BSA with Afghanistan: US

Notwithstanding President Hamid Karzai's reluctance to sign the bilateral security agreement, the US has said
 that though it is open to signing of the pact later in the year, the longer it takes the more challenging it will be to execute any mission post 2014 in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama called Karzai on Tuesday in order to discuss preparations for Afghanistan's upcoming elections, the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts and, specifically, the bilateral security agreement (BSA), White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"It has been indicated that it is unlikely by President Karzai he will sign it, the (US) President (Barack Obama) made clear in his call today that we are preparing for the possibility of no troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year and we are open to the signing of a bilateral security agreement later in the year, but the longer it takes to get there, by necessity, because of the planning, the smaller the mission will be beyond 2014, both in size and ambition," Carney told reporters.
Obama told Karzai that because he (Karzai) has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the US is moving forward with additional contingency planning. "We have been calling on the Afghan government to complete that process, to sign that agreement, which was negotiated in good faith, and do so promptly. "It is not subject to renegotiation, and I'm not sure I've heard members of Congress suggest that it should be. What I think has been amply demonstrated is that we've been pressing very hard for the Karzai government to complete the process by signing the BSA," he added. Carney said it has always been envisioned by the US and its NATO allies that they would draw down to zero by the end of this year. The prospect of a force beyond 2014 has always been a policy goal dependent upon a BSA being signed, he said.
Afghanistan–United States relations can be traced to 1921 but the first contact between the two occurred further back in 1830s when the first recorded person from the United States was visiting Afghanistan. In the last decade, Afghan-American relations have become stronger than ever before. According to a 2006 BBC poll, the U.S. was the most favored country in Afghanistan.
The first recorded contact between Afghanistan and the United States occurred in 1830s when Josiah Harlan, an American adventurer and political activist from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, traveled to the Indian subcontinent with intentions of becoming the King of Afghanistan. It was when the British Indian army invaded Afghanistan, during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838–1842) when Afghan kings Shuja Shah Durrani and Dost Mohammad Khan were fighting for the throne of the Durrani Empire. Harlan became involved in Afghan politics and factional military actions, eventually winning the title Prince of Ghor in exchange for military aid. The British-Indian forces were defeated and forced to make a complete withdrawal a few years later, with around 16,500 of them being reported to be killed and captured in 1842. There is no clear evidence as to what happened because the claim is made by William Brydon, the lone survivor. Harlan is believed to have left Afghanistan around the same period, eventually returning to the United States. In 1911, A.C. Jewett arrived in Afghanistan to build a hydroelectric plant near Kabul. He became the Chief Engineer for King Habibullah Khan. Formerly an employee of General Electric (GE), he became the second American known to live and work in Afghanistan.
Afghan-American relations became important during the start of the Cold War, between the United States and Soviet Union. Prince Mohammed Naim, King Zahir Shah's cousin, became the Chargé d'affaires in Washington, D.C. At that time, U.S. President Harry S. Truman commented that the friendship between the two countries would be "preserved and strengthened" by the presence of senior diplomats in each capital. The first official Afghanistan Ambassador to the United States was Habibullah Khan Tarzi, who served until 1953. The U.S. Kabul Legation was elevated to the U.S. Embassy Kabul on May 6, 1948. Louis Goethe Dreyfus, who previously served as Minister Plenipotentiary, became the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 1949 to 1951. The first American expedition to Afghanistan was led by Louis Dupree, Walter Fairservis, and Henry Hart. In 1953, Richard Nixon who was serving as U.S. Vice President at the time made an official diplomatic visit to Kabul. He also took a short tour around the city and met with local Afghans.
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's state visit to Afghanistan on December 9, 1959. In 1958, Daoud Khan became the first Afghan to speak before the United States Congress in Washington, DC. He was serving as Prime Minister of Afghanistan at the time. His presentation focused on a number of issues, but most importantly, underscored the importance of US-Afghan relations. While in the US capital of Washington, Daoud met with President Dwight Eisenhower, signed an important cultural exchange agreement, and reaffirmed personal relations with Vice President Nixon that had begun during the latter's trip to Kabul in 1953. The Prime Minister also traveled around the United States visiting the New York Stock Exchange, the Empire State Building, hydroelectric facilities at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and other sites.
On 2 May 2012, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and The United States President Barack Obama signed a strategic partnership agreement between the two countries, after the US president had arrived in Kabul as part of unannounced trip to Afghanistan on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. The U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, officially entiteled the "Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America", provides the long-term framework for the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States of America after the drawdown of U.S. forces in the Afghanistan war. The Strategic Partnership Agreement went into effect on July 4, 2012 as stated by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said on July 8, 2012 at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan: "Like a number of countries represented here, the United States and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement that went into effect four days ago."
On 7 July 2012, as part of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement, the United States designated Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Kabul to meet with President Karzai. She said: "There are a number of benefits that accrue to countries that have this designation... They are able to have access to excess defense supplies, for example, and they can be part of certain kinds of training and capacity building.