Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, and James B Warlick, deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, speak at a news conference in Kabul, yesterday. Afghanistan and the United States have started talks that will eventually define how many American troops stay in the country after most Nato combat forces leave at the end of 2014, and the scope of their mission.
KABUL: Afghanistan and the United States begun talks yesterday on an agreement that will define how many American troops stay in the country after most Nato combat forces leave at the end of 2014, and the scope of their mission.
The talks on the bilateral security agreement could take months, and are expected to be difficult. The thorniest issue is whether US soldiers in Afghanistan are given immunity from prosecution under Afghan law.
President Hamid Karzai has long demanded that US soldiers be answerable to Afghan law, but the United States insists that its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan are tried in America.
Underscoring the likely difficulty of the talks, US military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a March massacre.
The Afghan government wants Bales to be publicly tried in Afghanistan.
The US delegation is headed by James B Warlick, the deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, leads the Afghan team in Kabul.
This year, the two countries signed a strategic agreements which provides a framework for a post-2014 US role in Afghanistan, including aid assistance and governance, but not troop numbers.