WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, in a letter to President Hamid Karzai, said the United States will continue to respect "Afghan sovereignty" under a new security agreement.
Obama also said the U.S. military will not conduct raids on Afghan homes except under "extraordinary circumstances" involving urgent risks to U.S. nationals. The raids have been a particularly sensitive issue to the Afghans.
Obama's letter -- sent Wednesday -- came as Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a new security framework that would govern the relationship between their countries after the U.S.-led combat mission formally concludes at the end of next year. It could clear the way for thousands of U.S. troops to train and assist Afghan forces after the mission ends.
The agreement is far from complete. The document now goes to the Loya Jirga, a 2,500-member council of elders that has the right to revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement.
Karzai added a wrinkle to the process Thursday when he told the Loya Jirga that if they and the parliament approve the agreement, it should be signed after next spring's elections in Afghanistan.
Karzai's abrupt decision to defer signing the agreement until after the April 5 elections came even as he said he supported the Bilateral Security Agreement in a speech to the Loya Jirga.
Such a development could be a potential deal breaker, since the United States has said that it wants an agreement as soon as possible to allow planners in Washington and NATO to prepare for a military presence after 2014. The U.S. had wanted a deal signed by the end of October.
In his letter to Karzai, Obama wrote, "We look forward to completing this agreement promptly."