Afghanistan’s Defense Minister insists a security deal with the United States will be signed before the end-of-year deadline, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hagel’s unannounced trip — to thank troops for their service – comes in the wake of an impasse between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. and foreign allies over a security deal that would allow some U.S. troops to remain to train government military, the Associated Press reports.
Karzai has refused to sign the agreement after the Loya Jirga, a council of leaders and tribal elders, approved the deal last month and urged him to sign it by the end of December. He wants his successor, who will be voted into office in April, to sign the deal, and said he won’t sign a deal that allows military forces to raid Afghan homes.
U.S. and NATO troops will leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and without a signed agreement, none will remain to assist with the country’s transition.
Hagel does not plan to meet with Karzai during his visit.