News - Afghanistan
The US government is confident that it will reach an agreement on the legal jurisdiction of its troops in Afghanistan with the Afghan government, US Ambassador to Afghanistan said Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews, James Cunningham said that US forces and those from other countries have impunity in any country they operate and they seek the same from Afghanistan.
"I am perfectly confident that we will sort out the jurisdiction issues. As the [US] president said, this is something that we do with every one of our security partners. And indeed all of our allies as well, when they have forces stationed outside their territory, have similar agreements," Cunningham said.
He also added that it is the choice of the Afghan people and government as to whether they want a long-term security pact with the US.
"That's a matter for a sovereign Afghanistan - for a sovereign government and sovereign people - to decide if they want that relationship. We fully acknowledge that our ongoing role will be at the request of the Afghan government and the Afghan people and we will pursue that looking for that at the end of 2014," Cunningham said, adding that plans are for a limited number of US force will continue their engagement to train, equip and assist the Afghan security forces.
He said he is optimistic Afghans will broadly accept the agreement.
"Part of the core purpose of President Karzai's visit and the discussion between our presidents was to discuss that future relationship and what the goals of it would be and how we would carry it out," he said.
He is also confident that the US and Afghanistan will sign the agreement in the near future, but declined to provide a specific timeframe saying that it's impossible to anticipate an exact time.
The US envoy said it would be regrettable if the security pact was not accepted because it is likely to help Afghans reach an agreement with the Taliban.
"My response is that would be regrettable. That's an option providing nowhere to go in terms of ending the conflict in Afghanistan and bringing about peace and reconciliation," he said. "We have very clear that our hope and our goal is to help promote that conversation between the government and the Taliban and to help support a dialogue among the Afghans that will lead to genuine peace and reconciliation."
Cunningham also commented that the proposed Taliban office in Qatar is merely a point of liaison for negotiations.
"The office in Qatar which our presidents have agreed to try to be a place for Afghans to discuss peace, is just a location where we hope that a discussion about peace in future of Afghanistan between the government and Taliban can take place. We have been trying to encourage this for quite a while now," he said, adding that negotiation is the only way to bring real peace and stability to Afghanistan.