Karzai says US troops may have conditional immunity
By Sadaf Shinwari - Sun Dec 09 2012, 10:33 am
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he is willing to consider giving immunity to US troops in a security deal to be signed next year if his demands concerning “Afghanistan’s sovereignty” are respected.
Negotiations on a US-Afghan security pact that involves talks on the status of US bases in post-2014 Afghanistan were launched in November but negotiators said the immunity issue was not discussed in the first round.
With all international forces preparing to leave Afghanistan, the US and Afghanistan governments have been in talks on how to train and equip local forces.
The security agreement between Washington and Kabul has been held up with questions about how to deal with United States military personnel who break Afghan laws.
Karzai said his key demands were that the US hand over all detainees in its custody and shut all its prisons in Afghanistan, hand over control of Afghan airspace and stop military raids on Afghan villages.
“Within those conditions, and once those conditions are fulfilled by the United States with us, Afghanistan is willing to consider immunity for them and I, as the president of Afghanistan, am willing to go to the Afghan people and put that case forward and try to argue for it,” he added.
“But, before I will do that, I must make sure that the United States of America respects Afghan sovereignty.”
He also said the control of Afghanistan’s air space, which is controlled by NATO, should be handed over to Afghans.
Securing immunity for US troops from local prosecution in Afghanistan has been a key issue for the United States and its allies. Washington recalled all its troops from Iraq after Baghdad refused to grant US soldiers immunity.