US fails to win troop immunity in Afghan talks

US fails to win troop immunity in Afghan talks
Sun Oct 13, 2013 17:30:38

US-Afghan talks to allow 10,000 American military forces to remain in Afghanistan following the planned 2014 withdrawal of US-led NATO forces from the war-ravaged country has stalled over Washington’s demand for immunity of its forces against any legal prosecution.

A long day of negotiations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai resulted in little progress on the long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement, which would permit up to 10,000 American troops to stay behind to train Afghan security forces and fight the Taliban militants, according to an RT report on Sunday.

It is beyond the scope of the Afghan president and his government to decide whether to grant US military personnel immunity, Karzai told Kerry, adding that this “issue of jurisdiction” would be referred to the country’s loya Jirga, an assembly of elders, leaders and other influential people.

"We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement," Kerry told reporters at a Kabul news conference, stressing, however, that an agreement was otherwise essentially in place.

Kerry further said that only a partial deal was reached on just how many US troops will stay in the country after the NATO pull-out next year. Washington wants to take the lead in running what is refers to “counter-terrorism operations” after 2014, as well as to continue leasing military bases around the country.

But such unilateral actions as the capture in recent days of Taliban commander Latif Mehsud by US forces have angered Karzai.

"This is an issue that we have raised in earnest with the United States in the past few days, as we have all previous occasions of such arrests in which the Afghan laws were disregarded," the Afghan president was cite as saying in press reports.

“There will be no arbitrary actions and operations by the US, and a written document has been given to guarantee the protection of lives and properties of our people,” Karzai asserted.

The top Afghan executive wants a guarantee that the US will protect Afghanistan from a potential Al-Qaeda invasion from neighboring Pakistan. He said that during the talks an agreement had been signed to ensure the welfare of the Afghan people.

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