U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting American forces in Afghanistan Saturday, amid a stand-off between the U.S. and Afghan leaders over a security agreement that President Hamid Karzai still refuses to sign despite increasing pressure, NBC News reported. The U.S. has made its position on the agreement clear and Karzai has tentatively endorsed the deal, but he has refused to sign it after it was approved by a council of tribal elders known as the Loya Jirga. The council said the agreement with the U.S. should be signed by the end of December, as U.S. officials have demanded. Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog said the purpose of Hagel's surprise visit had nothing to do with the agreement, he simply wanted "to thank troops for their service fighting away from home. This is Hagel's second trip to Afghanistan since he began as defense chief earlier this year.
Hagel Visits Afghanistan Amid Standoff
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