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Afghan government signs US troops deal

The new Afghan government has signed a security deal with American officials that will allow US troops to remain in the country beyond 2014. The agreement was signed by Afghanistan's newly appointed national security adviser, Hanif Atmar. The previous president, Hamid Karzai, refused to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the US, straining ties and raising security fears. Most Nato forces are to withdraw this year, leaving 9,800 US troops behind.

The total number of troops in the US-led mission at the start of next year will be around 12,500, with the remainder coming from allies such as Germany and Italy. US ambassador to Kabul Jim Cunningham signed the long-delayed agreement on behalf of the government in Washington. The BSA allows for some foreign special forces to stay in the country to conduct "counter-terror operations" and others to support and train Afghan forces.