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White House sees longer wait for Afghan agreement

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is dropping its insistence that Afghanistan sign a crucial security pact within "weeks."

That suggests it could be willing to wait and see if the successor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai is easier to work with after elections in April.

Karzai exacerbated tensions with Washington on Thursday by releasing 65 accused militants from a former U.S. prison.

The American military opposed the move, saying the men are Taliban fighters who will likely return to the battlefield to kill coalition and Afghan forces.

Even before the prisoner release, a U.S. official said the White House has not ruled out waiting until after Afghanistan's April elections to see if a new leader will finalize the bilateral security agreement Karzai stubbornly refuses to sign.

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