Afghanistan to Allow US Troops Conditional Immunity

News - Afghanistan


American soldiers who remain in Afghanistan after 2014 will be allowed to remain under the legal jurisdiction of the US instead of Afghanistan if certain conditions are met, President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday.

With talks between Afghan and US officials moving toward a bilateral security agreement, Karzai said at a press briefing that US troop immunity from Afghan prosecution – a key demand of the US – will be granted if the Americans can give certain guarantees in return.

"The bilateral security agreement will grant the United States certain facilities and places for their use in Afghanistan.

That will require certain guarantees from the US and also Afghanistan's willingness to provide the US with those facilities under conditions that Afghanistan considers of being vital to the interests of our country and people," Karzai said.

"Those vital interests are the sovereignty of Afghanistan, respect for Afghan laws, respect for the life and property of Afghan people, the training and equipping of Afghan National Security Forces, the control of Afghan airspace by the Afghan government – not by Nato or the US – and the fulfillment of all those requirements that any independent sovereign nation state should have," he added.

"Within those conditions and once those conditions are fulfilled by the United States with us, Afghanistan is willing to consider impunity 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."

Karzai also stressed that the US should not take prisoners in Afghanistan or maintain any prison, as per the agreement with the Afghan government struck in March, and urged them to prevent the bombardment of Afghan villages and homes.

All the strategic agreements with US and other countries are vital for the economic development of Afghanistan, he added, but reiterated that the country cannot sign any agreement without its sovereignty upheld.

Karzai spoke extensively on the assassination attempt against Afghan spy chief Asadullah Khalid, indicating that officials believe the bomb plot was formed in Paksitan's city Quetta, like the suicide attack on the former head of the High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani.

"Of course we will be seeking clarification from Pakistan because we know this man who came in the name of a guest to meet Asadullah Khalid came from Pakistan. We know that for a fact," said Karzai.

Karzai stopped short of blaming Pakistan itself, although he said it was too "professional" an attack for the Taliban.

"Apparently the Taliban claimed responsibility like many other attacks, but such a complicated attack and a bomb hidden inside his body, this is not Taliban work. It's completely professional," he said. "Taliban cannot do that and there are bigger and professional hands involved in it."

He said that it will not affect the fledgling peace talks recently revived with Pakistan, and the matter will be discussed next week with Pakistani officials during a meeting between the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey in Ankara.

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