The agreement does not specify whether a reduced number of U.S. troops, possibly special forces, and advisers will remain after NATO's 2014 withdrawal deadline.
World Bulletin / News Desk
A car bomb exploded outside a compound housing Westerners in Kabul on Wednesday hours after U.S. President Barack Obama signed a security pact during a short visit to the city.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the eastern outskirts of the capital that killed at least six people, a Gurkha guard and five passers-by, and wounded 17.
The Taliban said it was in response to Obama's visit and to the long-term strategic partnership deal he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a pact that sets out a long-term U.S. role after most foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014.
Obama's visit came a year after U.S. special forces troops killed Osama bin Laden in a raid in neighbouring Pakistan.
The Taliban, ousted by U.S. invasion, quickly claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack at Green Village, one of several compounds for Westerners on the main road heading east out of the capital.
"This attack was to make clear our reaction to Obama's trip to Afghanistan. The message was that instead of signing of a strategic partnership deal with Afghanistan, he should think about taking his troops out from Afghanistan and leave it to Afghans to rebuild their country," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
In a televised address to the American people from a base north of Kabul, he said the invasion in Afghanistan was winding down.
"As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it's time to renew America," Obama said, speaking against a backdrop of armored vehicles and a U.S. flag.
"This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end."
Nearly 3,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 occupation.
Obama's visit was clearly an election-year event.
He spoke to U.S. troops during a stay in Afghanistan of roughly six hours and emphasized bin Laden's killing, an event his re-election campaign has touted as one of his "most important achievements" in office.
"Not only were we able to drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but slowly and systematically we have been able to decimate the ranks of al Qaeda, and a year ago we were able to finally bring Osama bin Laden to justice," Obama said to cheers.
He said, that the defeat of al Qaeda was "within reach".
"I recognize that many Americans are tired of war ... But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly," he said at Bagram airbase, where only months ago thousands of Afghans rioted after U.S troops burned copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.
That incident, and the killing of 17 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier weeks later, plunged already tense relations to their lowest point in years.
Obama met Karzai at his walled garden palace in Kabul, where they signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement. "By signing this document, we close the last 10 years and open a new season of equal relations," Karzai said after the meeting.
The agreement does not specify whether a reduced number of U.S. troops, possibly special forces, and advisers will remain after NATO's 2014 withdrawal deadline. That will be dealt with in a separate status-of-forces agreement still being worked out.