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U.S. and Afghanistan sign security agreement as new leadership takes over – Part 1

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral security agreement today, which will keep a limited number of American troops in the country. The long-term deal will allow U.S. and NATO soldiers to carry out counterterrorism missions and to support Afghan forces.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner has the details.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The signing ended months of uncertainty over what happens when the U.S.-led international mission officially ends December 31.

  • U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham:

    JAMES CUNNINGHAM, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan: The United States values its relationship with Afghanistan and the Afghan people. We are committed to a better future for Afghanistan.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    More than 2,200 American troops have died in the Afghan war since 2001. At their peak, U.S. forces stood at 100,000 in 2011.

    The new deal will leave 9,800 Americans and about 2,000 other NATO forces there to train and assist Afghan units.

    Newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani said today Afghan sovereignty won't be compromised.

  • PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI, Afghanistan (through interpreter):

    The international forces are not allowed to enter in our holy sites and our mosques. Integrity of our life and houses will be safe based on our constitutional values.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    For months, former President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the accord. Both Ghani and his presidential rival, Abdullah Abdullah, supported it, but their drawn-out election dispute prevented its signing.

    During those months of uncertainty, the Taliban stepped up attacks and regained territory in the north and south.

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