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Afghan leader: Peace before security deal

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said on Sunday the United States needed to bring peace.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Picture: AFP

KABUL - Afghan president Hamid Karzai said on Sunday the United States needed to bring peace to Afghanistan before he would sign a security deal which will enable Washington to keep troops in the country beyond next year.

"If there is no peace then this agreement will bring misfortune to Afghanistan," Karzai said in his closing remarks to the Loya Jirga assembly of elders and dignitaries. "Peace is our precondition. America should bring us peace and then we will sign it."

The president did not elaborate, but has previously said that a free and fair election is needed to guarantee peace in the country.

The Loya Jirga was convened to decide on the pact, but Karzai cast the entire process in doubt by saying he would refuse to sign it until after a presidential election scheduled for April 2014. The United States has repeatedly said it cannot wait beyond the end of this year.

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