News - Afghanistan


Lawmakers welcomed the start of talks for a security deal between Kabul and Washington, set to begin Thursday, saying the pact is necessary for the future of Afghanistan because the national forces need help.

"The National Army, police and directorate of security still don't have the ability to act against opposing groups and Al Qaeda [alone], therefore we call the pact a necessity; it must be signed," Sayed Ishaq Gilani, member of the parliamentary international relations committee said Wednesday.

The parliamentarians emphasised that Afghanistan's national Interests should be considered in the agreement which will govern American troop presence and purpose in the country after the Nato-led Isaf mission ends in 2014.

A key challenge in the pact will be the Afghan endorsement of immunity of US troops from prosecution in Afghanistan if they commit a crime.

The Afghan government has previously said it will not accept such a clause in the agreement but lawmakers said compromises will have to be made.

"We are in a deal with the world. We must act consciously and consider our national interests. [But] naturally, having unilateral expectations is not fair in international relations," MP Ahmad Behzad said.

Endorsement of the pact may also incite Afghanistan's neighboring countries given Iran's reaction to the long term strategic agreement in May this year.

Iranian officials have warned that any pact allowing US bases to remain indefinitely in Afghanistan is not acceptable to them.

US President Barack Obama telephoned President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday night but whether the pair discussed the imminent talks is not clear.

A statement from Karzai's office said Obama thanked Karzai for the congratulatory message on his re-election as US President last week and invited Karzai to the US "at his earliest convenience for talks on continued bilateral cooperation and relations between the two countries".

The phonecall also came the same day multiple media outlets reported the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, was embroiled in the scandal that had seen Allen's predecessor in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, resign as head of US Central Intelligence Agency.

Petraeus resigned on Friday citing an extramarital affair.

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