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November 19, 2013

US: Afghan Security Deal 'Not There Yet'

by VOA News

The Afghan government says the United States has agreed not to let its forces raid and search homes of ordinary Afghans under a proposed security agreement.
 
The U.S. assurance came during a phone conversation between Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday, Karzai spokesman Emal Faizi told a news briefing.
 
But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that while there has been "some progress" toward resolving outstanding issues involved in the security agreement, the U.S. and Afghanistan are "not there yet."
 
Searches of Afghan homes by U.S. forces had emerged as a sticking point in negotiations and threatened to derail the Bilateral Security Agreement, which will govern the presence of forces in Afghanistan after most foreign troops leave next year.
 
The Afghan spokesman said President Barack Obama has also agreed to write a letter to the Afghan people acknowledging mistakes made in the "war on terror," but Psaki said she cannot confirm plans for diplomatic correspondence "whether they exist or not."
 
Faizi says the U.S. guarantee to stop searches will be contained in a letter Obama will send to Karzai ahead of a Loya Jirga (traditional assembly) that Karzai has called to discuss the agreement.
 
In Obama's letter, Faizi said "the United States government will provide guarantees that the mistakes committed in the past by U.S. military forces won’t be repeated and they will be prevented."
 
Asked whether U.S. forces will be allowed to carry out military operations, Faizi said the decision will be made by the Loya Jirga.
 
Around 2,500 delegates, including members of parliament, provincial government officials and representatives of civil society will attend the three-day gathering in Kabul this week.
 
Kabul remains on high alert with offices closed and dozens of checkpoints set up along the route leading to the site of the gathering.
 
A car bomb near the site of the Jirga killed more than 10 people on Saturday.
 
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.