(WASHINGTON) -- Washington and Kabul are one step closer to completing the Bilateral Security Agreement that would keep American forces in Afghanistan past 2014. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday that the two governments finalized language in the post-war pact that will be presented Thursday to the "loya jirga" of tribal elders for their approval.
However, even if the elders give the BSA their blessing, it will still be up to the Afghan parliament to give the pact its seal of approval. It's been reported that the U.S. wants between 10,000 and 16,000 soldiers in Afghanistan to act as advisors to the national army and police, who will be responsible for maintaining security after the majority of coalition forces leave sometime next year. Meanwhile, Kerry dismissed stories that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the agreement was contingent on the U.S. admitting to mistakes during the war. The state secretary told reporters in Washington, "Let me be clear: President Karzai didn't ask for an apology, there was no discussion of an apology, there will be, there is no, it's just not even on the table."
On Wednesday, President Obama sent a letter to Karzai telling him U.S. forces are redoubling their efforts to ensure Afghan homes are respected and U.S. troops will not enter civilian homes except in dire cases to protect U.S. nationals. However, Obama does not -- as was rumored -- apologize for incidents in which Afghan civilians were killed.
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