U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for quick signing of a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan after the country’s tribal elders agreed to the pact that governs future ties between Washington and Kabul.

Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of Afghan tribal elders, approved and urged Sunday that the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States be signed by the end of this year, Xinhua reported.

Mr. Kerry said “I can’t imagine a more compelling affirmation from the Afghan people themselves of their commitment to a long term partnership with the United States and our international partners.”

“The critical next step must be to get the BSA signed in short order, and put into motion an agreement which will lay a firm foundation for our two countries to continue working together toward a more secure and prosperous future for Afghanistan,” he said.

The pact allows the US and its allies to keep 10,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan after most US and NATO combat troops leave by the end of 2014.

The residual forces will remain until 2024 to train and assist Afghan forces as well as conduct counterterrorism missions. In addition, the deal gives the US jurisdiction for the prosecution of US troops in Afghanistan.

“Afghans are rightly taking the lead in providing for their own peace and security,” Kerry said in his statement.

“We remain committed to supporting those efforts, and look forward to signing an agreement that will enable us to do so,” he added.

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