October 30, 2014

Afghan and US officials begin talks on security pact

By Sajad - Thu Nov 15 2012, 8:10 pm

The United States and Afghanistan launched crucial talks Thursday on the status of US forces remaining in Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal of combat troops in 2014.

“The talks between the United States of America and Afghanistan on Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) formally began here in Kabul today,” ambassador Hakimi announced at a joint press conference with James Warlick, Deputy Special Representative of U.S. on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The bilateral security negotiations could take months, and are expected to be difficult. The round of talks that began on Thursday will cover the legal basis for U.S. soldiers to work in Afghanistan post-2014.

After Thursday, the next round is expected in December, although decisions on the most contentious issues could be put off until later.

A key element of any agreement will be the question of immunity for US troops from prosecution in local courts, but this was not discussed in the first round of talks, negotiators said.

In Iraq, Washington pulled out all of its troops after failing to get Baghdad to grant its soldiers immunity, and President Hamid Karzai has warned there could be similar problems in Afghanistan.

Some 100,000 NATO-led troops with over 60,000 of them Americans are presently stationed in Afghanistan to fight Taliban-linked militancy and ensure durable peace in the conflict-ridden central Asian state.

President Hamid Karzai has long demanded that U.S. soldiers be answerable to Afghan law, but the United States insists that its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan be tried in America.

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