Afghan peace precondition to security pact with US: Karzai

Kabul, May 9 (IANS) The US can establish military bases in Afghanistan after inking a security agreement but Kabul’s “precondition” for the deal is to ensure durable peace in the war-torn country, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday.

“For signing the security agreements with the United States, we have preconditions and the first precondition is to bring about security in Afghanistan,” Xinhua quoted Karzai as saying.

“The US is seeking its own benefit before the inking of the agreement but Afghanistan is also seeking its benefit. Afghan forces must be strengthened, they must be equipped and strong. The Afghanistan economy must be upheld and strong. Afghanistan must have a strong government,” he said.

The president said the US wants Afghanistan to set up nine military bases across the country in the major cities of Kabul, Bagram, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Gardez, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand and Herat.

But Afghanistan also has its demands and interests, he said.

The other preconditions for signing the accord is helping the Afghan government build water and hydropower dams, Karzai said.

The security agreement, if signed, would guarantee the presence of US military for at least several years in Afghanistan, Xinhua said.

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