Afghan President Hamid Karzai has proposed new terms for a deal governing the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and said he is in no hurry to sign the accord, the White House has said.
"President Karzai outlined new conditions for signing the agreement and indicated he is not prepared to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement promptly," a spokesperson for the White House said following a meeting between Mr Karzai and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Mr Karzai has persistently raised questions about the pact, which would enable US troops to operate in the country beyond next year.
An assembly of Afghan elders endorsed the deal on Sunday and advised Mr Karzai to sign it promptly.
However, the Afghan president said he would not sign it until after a presidential election due in April.
There should be peace in Afghanistan before the deal is signed, he said.
In Kabul, Mr Karzai's spokesman said the Afghan president wanted the United States to halt all military operations on civilians' homes and return Afghan citizens held in the Guantanamo prison camp before the pact is signed.
Ms Rice, who made a three-day visit to Afghanistan to visit US troops, told Mr Karzai it is "not viable" to defer signing the deal until after the election.
Ms Rice also said that deferring the signing of any deal until after the election would not provide the US and NATO with the "clarity necessary to plan for a potential post-2014 military presence".
"Without a prompt signature, the US would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan," she added.