Fareed speaks with Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah about U.S. troop levels and whether he would sign the bilateral security agreement. Watch the video for the full exchange, or watch the second part of the interview here.
Let me ask you first the question that I think many Americans are wondering about, which is will you sign the agreement that will have American troops stay on in Afghanistan in some number, for training and such? As you know, President Karzai has been unwilling to sign the agreement that would allow American troops to stay.
Of course. My position in regards to the bilateral security agreement with the United States has been that we need continued support, in military and security terms, from the United States and the international community. And that's the framework – a bilateral security agreement, or BSA, is the framework for that, for the continuation of military security cooperation in assessing the Afghan security forces and training of the Afghan security forces, as well as dealing with the threats which are around.
So my position in regards to the BSA has been positive. And it has to be signed. And it will be one of the priorities of the future government of Afghanistan.
Do you have a view as to how many American troops should remain? As you know, there's a big debate within the United States. Some people want it to be as low as 5,000 or even lower. Some say, no, you need about 20,000. Do you have a number?
I don't have a number. That's a technical, military question. But at the same time, the aim or the mission as [it’s] defined, it requires a few thousand...the presence of a few thousand American troops, not as a minimum such as 3,000 to 5,000 American troops, but certainly more than that. But I am not in any position to give you a number.