Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai told a gathering of elders that he backs the signing of a security deal with the United States after next year's elections, if the elders and Parliament approved of the agreement.

Such a development could be a potential deal breaker as the United States has said it wants an agreement as soon as possible to allow planners in the US to prepare for a military presence after 2014, when the majority of foreign combat forces would have left Afghanistan.

The four-day meeting will discuss the bilateral security pact that defines the role of thousands of U.S. troops who will remain after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014.

Mr. Karzai told the elders that President Barack Obama had assured him that actions by U.S. forces after 2014 will respect the safety and security of Afghans.

The elders have the right to revise or reject any clause of the deal. Their decision will have significant influence on Parliament, which has to endorse the pact.