Afghan parliament passes US strategic agreement


KABUL — Afghanistan’s parliament on Saturday voted by an overwhelming majority to ratify a strategic partnership agreement with the United States signed earlier this month, lawmakers said. “We voted with a majority in favor of the strategic pact,” MP Shukria Essakhil told AFP.

“Only five MPs voted against it,” she said, adding that around 190 lawmakers out of 249 were present for the open vote. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Kabul to sign a deal with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai that will cement post-war ties with Kabul after 2014, when NATO-led combat forces leave. The pact foresees the possibility of American forces staying behind but does not commit Washington to specific troop or funding levels. The pact alarmed Afghanistan’s neighbors including Iran, lawmaker Bakhtash Seyawash said. “There were accusations that Iran has tried to pay millions of dollars to MPs, that is why the parliament decided to hold an open vote,” he added.

“Iran’s efforts to sabotage the vote failed,” he said. The pact is now going to be sent to the Afghan senate where it is expected to be approved as early as next week, Seyawash said.