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World/National News

November 20, 2013

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Kerry: US and Afghanistan agree on security pact language

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. and Afghanistan have agreed on the language of a bilateral security pact that could clear the way for thousands of U.S. troops to train and assist Afghan forces after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014.

The agreement is far from complete. The document now goes to the Loya Jirga, a 3,000-member council of elders that has the right to revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement. Whatever they agree upon then goes to the Afghan parliament, which could make still more changes before the agreement is approved.

On the U.S. side, only the Obama administration needs to approve the agreement, but it could reject changes made by Afghan officials. If it does, that leaves open the option for the U.S. to pull all troops out of Afghanistan. Such was the case in Iraq, when the U.S. and Iraq couldn’t agree on terms of a security arrangement. Sectarian violence has plagued Iraq since, and some fear Afghanistan could head down that path without a continued U.S. presence if Afghan forces cannot defend the country themselves.

Kerry said the language, agreed to after about a year of tense on-again, off-again negotiations, will be reflected in the draft proposal presented Thursday to the Loya Jirga, in Kabul.

“There were some people who may have questioned or doubted whether that was going to happen. Well, it’s happening tomorrow, and it’s happening tomorrow with agreed-upon language between us,” Kerry said during a news conference at the State Department with Australian officials and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Study ties nuts to a lower risk of death

DALLAS (AP) — Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease — in fact, were less likely to die of any cause — during a 30-year Harvard study.

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