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Obama Says U.S. Will Respect Afghan Sovereignty

As Afghan elders debate whether to approve a proposed security agreement with the U.S., there's word that President Obama has said the U.S. will respect Afghanistan's sovereignty and carry out raids on Afghan homes only under extraordinary circumstances, The Associated Press writes.

The wire service says Obama made that pledge in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. It adds that:

"Obama's letter comes a day after Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a new security framework that would govern the relationship between their countries after the U.S.-led combat mission formally concludes at the end of next year. It could clear the way for thousands of U.S. troops to train and assist Afghan forces after the mission ends."

From Kabul, NPR's Sean Carberry reports that elders have begun their five-day Loya Jirga — a grand assembly involving more than 2,000 delegates — to consider the pact. Sean says that Karzai:

"Kicked off the Loya Jirga with a long speech that alternated between urging the delegates to support the security agreement, and criticizing U.S. conduct in the war. While Karzai said the pact is in Afghanistan's interests, he also said there is no trust between him and the U.S.

"Late in his address, Karzai said that even if the Jirga approves the agreement, it should not be signed until after Afghanistan's presidential election next spring. American officials have long said the pact needs to be signed this fall. This is just the latest in a recent series of potentially deal-ending crises. But the others have all been resolved up to this point."

As Reuters writes:

"Delegates at the five-day Loya Jirga, many of them bearded men with elaborate turbans but with women among them too, will debate the draft and decide whether to accept it — whether they want U.S. troops to stay, or leave Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency alone."

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