Many Afghans are keen to strike a deal to keep US troops in their country


Afghan police officers keep watch at the site of an attack in Kabul.


Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

Kabul and Washington have moved one step closer to a bilateral security pact that would keep US boots on the ground in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Afghan elders will meet this week in an assembly called a "Loya Jirga," where they'll consider the plan.

One Kabul resident, who goes only by his first name Shoaib, says the vast majority of Afghans hope for a continued US presence beyond 2014.

"We want the Americans to stay. We want our military to receive training and support, so that we can be empowered to defend our own country," says Shoaib, who is a member of the Afghan Young Leaders Initiative.

"We live in a region where we have hostile elements surrounding us. And the US forces and our international allies, they're the stablizing factor so far. If the stabilizing component is removed, I don't foresee a very bright future a year and a half from now, if all the international troops leave."

Negotiators had to deal with several thorny issues. Among them was the question of US raids on Afghan homes, particularly night raids, to search for members of militias. Many Afghans felt the raids violated their homes.

On Wednesday, US officials announced they had reached an agreement with Afghan officials, subject to approval by Afghanistan's Loya Jirga.

US officials have said their Afghan allies are weighing the possibility of keeping more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014. There were rumors in recent days about whether a deal would require an apology from the US for past civlian deaths. US Secretary of State John Kerry said that was never on the table.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology,” Kerry said to The New York Times.