News - Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday that the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership Agreement would be signed by the time of the Chicago conference on Afghanistan in May.
Karzai also said the agreement would be reached once there is "an end of foreign troop's night raids", reiterating his condition for the agreement, while speaking at a ceremony commemorating International Women's Day - normally celebrated on March 8 - in Kabul.
The talks between the two sovereign states over the terms of the agreement have been ongoing for 1.5 years.
Karzai added that the US and its allied nations would continue to assist the country with as much as $4.1 billion annually after 2014 when the foreign troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, the bulk of which will be used for defence.
"This is our agreement, that the US and its friends will provide $4.1 billion annually to our Afghan National Army and our police after 2014 when our national security forces take over the security responsibility of the country," he said.
The comment comes in light of growing concerns about a likely reduction in the size of the Afghan National Security Forces after Nato ends its combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
The Afghan army and police force is forecast to grow to 350,000 personnel by the time international troops withdraw, but some Nato defence ministers recently suggested the number could fall to 230,000 to reduce costs.
The US is currently spending about $12 billion a year on training the Afghan security forces.