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U.S., Afghanistan near vital deal on future ties

From Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Mon April 23, 2012
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker initialed a framework outlining future relations between the United States and Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker initialed a framework outlining future relations between the United States and Afghanistan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. ambassador, Afghan national security adviser initial framework for future relations
  • The proposal does not address the future presence of American troops
  • President Barack Obama wants to have a deal signed by May's NATO summit

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The United States and Afghanistan appeared close to signing a vital diplomatic deal Sunday, a pact that would continue cooperation between the two countries after the planned departure of NATO troops in 2014.

Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Daftar Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker initialed a text Sunday that outlines the kind of relationship the two countries want in the decade following the NATO withdrawal, Afghanistan's presidential palace and the U.S. Embassy announced.

But the agreement leaves vital questions -- like the presence of American troops -- to a later document.

"The document finalized today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region," Spanta said in a statement issued by the Afghan government.

Balancing act on Afghan-Pakistani border
The stress of war

He said he anticipates Afghan lawmakers will be briefed on its contents soon.

The deal had been long expected after Washington and Kabul found compromises over the thorny issues of "night raids" by U.S. forces on Afghan homes and the transfer of U.S. detainees to Afghan custody. But U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said the United States needed to perform an interagency review, consult with Congress and give President Barack Obama the chance to review the proposed agreement.

"The initialing allows the text to go forward for the internal processes on both sides," Sundwall said.

Obama has indicated he wanted to see the document signed before the NATO summit in Chicago in May.

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