TODAY   |  November 24, 2013

Pact could keep US in Afghanistan for another decade

The security pact between the Obama administration and the Afghan government could keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan for another decade, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai is holding out from signing the deal and hoping for better terms. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>>> now to developments in afghanistan . big story overseas involving the future of american men and women in uniform. a group of elders in afghanistan has approved a deal that could keep u.s. troops there for another decade. chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in eastern afghanistan . richard, good morning.

>> reporter: afghan president hamid karzai seems to be playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship. today in kabul, thousands of elders gathered for a traditional loya jerga, they held a vote on a u.s. afghan security agreement . after meeting for three days they decided they would approve this agreement this would set the framework that could have thousands of american troops staying in this country pumping billions of dollars into afghanistan for several years, perhaps a decade to come. the afghan tribal elders decided this was important for afghanistan 's future security, important to keep the afghan police and afghan armed forces on their feet and fighting the taliban. but after the agreement, just a short while after the elders voted to approve the deal, president karzai said not so fast, he's not ready to sign it yet. first he wants assurances from the united states . he wants more signs of good faith. he wants the united states to stop entering afghan homes, stop carrying outcome bat missions, stop doing so-called night raids. this was something of surprise for many u.s. officials who thought that this deal was going to be wrapped up today. it appears to be yet another negotiating strategy from president karzai . the question is what does he want? what is he negotiating for? why is he holding up this deal? is it for more money, for more authority, more weapons? some afghan annual lie detector tests told us it's likely about political power . he wants assurances that after elections in april when karzai is supposed to step down, his political allies will remain in power. lester?

>> richard engel in afghanistan this morning. thanks.