LONDON, Jan 4: An agreement on the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan was finally signed in Kabul with the interim government of Kabul on Friday.

The Afghan interior minister Yunis Qanuni and the British General John McColl who will lead the force signed the deal.

The terms of the agreement detailing how the International Security Assistance Force will operate were finalised last week but delayed by problems translating it into Dari, which along Pashto is the official language of Afghanistan.

The Afghan interim leader Mr Hamid Karzai on this occasion said: “We hope that this signature will bring to Afghanistan the stability and peace that we needed for so many years”.

“We also hope that the co-operation between the Afghan State and the international security force and the United Nations will bring to an absolute end the presence of terrorism and banditry in Afghanistan,” he added.

Reliable Afghan sources told Dawn here that one of the sticking points during the talks was the continued presence in Kabul of armed Afghan fighters. They said: “Under the agreement reached in Bonn those soldiers are allowed only outside the capital Kabul”.

The accord followed several days of talks to clarify the military and technical arrangements on the size of the peacekeeping force. Britain will head the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and its total number is expected to be 5,000 with its headquarters in Kabul.

An advance force of British troops has already arrived in as part of an International Security Assistance Force authorised by the UN Security Council.

The talks have been lengthy, partly because the Tajik faction of the Afghan interim government felt that Afghans are

sensitive about having foreign troops in the country. General Fahim, in particular had been unhappy about the idea though his other partners in the government including the Prime Minister Hamid Karzai strongly supported the multinational force to provide security to Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan.

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