Karzai Says U.S. Can Keep Afghan Bases After 2014 | NYT

The United States and Afghanistan are negotiating a security agreement that would allow American forces to stay here beyond the end of 2014, and Mr. Karzai said the Obama administration had asked for nine bases spread across the country.

“We agree to give them these bases,” Mr. Karzai told students during a speech at Kabul University. “We consider our relations with the United States beyond 2014 to be positive for Afghanistan.”

The American reaction, though, was far less positive than one would expect. Officials characterized Mr. Karzai’s comments as premature at best, and said they appeared to reflect the Afghan government’s desire for a larger force than the United States is likely to be willing to commit.

The Obama administration has yet to decide how large a force it would like to keep in Afghanistan, but administration officials have signaled that it is unlikely to total more than 10,000 service members. They said it was more important now to hash out a range of issues, like whether American troops would continue to have legal immunity in Afghanistan after next year, than to talk about the specifics of where troops would be based.