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Deadlock Over Afghan-U.S. Security Pact Can Be Broken, Presidential Advisor Says

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AFGHANISTAN POLICE
Afghan police forces stand guard at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. A Taliban suicide bomber and two gunmen on Friday attacked a Lebanese restaurant that is popular with foreigners and affluent Afghans in Kabul, a brazen attack that left ore than a dozen dead, including foreigners dining inside and two other gunmen, officials said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — President Hamid Karzai's national security adviser says he is more optimistic that the Afghan leader will agree to sign a key U.S. security agreement before leaving office this year.

Thursday's statement is the first positive sign of a possible breakthrough after weeks of deadlock and increasingly anti-American rhetoric from Karzai's government.

Washington has been frustrated by Karzai's refusal to sign the pact that would allow some U.S. troops to remain and keep training Afghan soldiers after the planned withdrawal at the end of this year. Without the agreement, American military advisers will be forced to pull out of Afghanistan.

Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the national security adviser, says recent intense talks in the last few days have made him "more optimistic" that the deadlock can be broken. He would not elaborate.

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