Sunday, December 22, 2013

NATO starts own talks with Afghanistan on post-2014 mission pact --- (Reuters) - NATO and Afghan officials started work on Saturday on drawing up a framework for the alliance to stay on after 2014 despite the fact that a separate pact with the United States, which contributes the bulk of the forces, has still not been signed. -- But with the clock ticking on the current 49-nation mission ending before 2015, NATO and U.S. officials have said they must have agreements in place very soon to govern what happens afterward or risk being forced to withdraw all of the 84,000 soldiers, 60,000 of whom are American. -- The NATO-Afghan pact would have many of the same provisions as the U.S. one and would not be able to be finalized until after the U.S. agreement was signed. -- Opening negotiations now is designed to make the best use of time, said a NATO official, who asked not to be named. - "Time is of the essence here," he said. -- The talks were launched at a meeting in Kabul between NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Maurits Jochems, and Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Spanta. - More, Adrian Croft, at:


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