World

Afghan president opens gathering of elders, says he backs security deal with US

  • Afghan policemen pray while guarding the premises where thousands of prominent Afghans are scheduled to meet for a Loya Jirga on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Security in the Afghan capital tightened as thousands of prominent Afghans are scheduled to meet for a Loya Jirga Nov. 21, 2013 to debate a contentious security agreement with the United States. Without the agreement the United States previously warned that it will remove all its troops by the end of 2014 and an estimated $4.1 billion promised for Afghanistan's National Security Forces would likely be rescinded. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    Afghan policemen pray while guarding the premises where thousands of prominent Afghans are scheduled to meet for a Loya Jirga on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Security in the Afghan capital tightened as thousands of prominent Afghans are scheduled to meet for a Loya Jirga Nov. 21, 2013 to debate a contentious security agreement with the United States. Without the agreement the United States previously warned that it will remove all its troops by the end of 2014 and an estimated $4.1 billion promised for Afghanistan's National Security Forces would likely be rescinded. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)  (The Associated Press)

  • A general view of the venue where the Loya Jirga will be held, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. A traditional council around 3,000 prominent Afghans is due to start discussion on Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States tomorrow. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

    A general view of the venue where the Loya Jirga will be held, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. A traditional council around 3,000 prominent Afghans is due to start discussion on Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States tomorrow. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2013 file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. Kerry says the U.S. and Afghanistan have reached an agreement on the final language of a bilateral security agreement. The agreement will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year. Kerry said Wednesday that he had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier in the day. The proposed agreement will be placed before a gathering of Afghan elders on Thursday.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2013 file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. Kerry says the U.S. and Afghanistan have reached an agreement on the final language of a bilateral security agreement. The agreement will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends next year. Kerry said Wednesday that he had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier in the day. The proposed agreement will be placed before a gathering of Afghan elders on Thursday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)  (The Associated Press)

Afghanistan's president has told a gathering of elders that he supports signing a security deal with the United States if safety and security conditions are met.

Hamid Karzai spoke as the 2,500-member national consultative council of Afghan elders known as the Loya Jirga started in Kabul on Thursday.

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.

Karzai told the gathering that President Barack Obama assured him 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.