President Barack Obama has not said how many troops will remain, although there have been estimates ranging from 8,000 to 12,000. It is unlikely such an announcement will be made until the security agreement is signed. Those troops would help train Afghan forces and also carry out operations against al-Qaida and other militant groups.
Karzai said Afghanistan was ready to sign a deal as long as the American government in exchange for being able to stay on bases in the country agrees to terms of Afghan security, funding assistance and help with training and equipping Afghan security forces. It is thought that the contentious issue of providing US troops immunity from Afghan law is a low priority for the Afghan government in the negotiations.
The Afghan government has not said how much rent it would want for three or four US bases, but it is believed to be in the billions. Afghanistan is also thought to be seeking security guarantees to protect its porous borders, including the frontier with Pakistan that is the main infiltration route for insurgents who retain sanctuary in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.
It was unclear how Karzai expected the United States or any of its allies to guarantee Afghanistan’s borders against attack.