News / Asia

Kerry, Karzai Discuss Prisoner Transfer, Taliban Talks

Kerry, Karzai Discuss Prisoner Transfer, Taliban Talks i
X
March 26, 2013 12:01 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Afghanistan where he and President Hamid Karzai discussed efforts to bring the Taliban into reconciliation talks. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Kabul that the previously unannounced visit follows agreement on the U.S. handover of its last Afghan prisoners.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Afghanistan where he and President Hamid Karzai discussed efforts to bring the Taliban into reconciliation talks. The previously unannounced visit follows agreement on the U.S. handover of its last Afghan prisoners.

Kerry said the transfer of the last Afghan prisoners held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan is an appropriate restatement of Washington's commitment to Afghan sovereignty.

The long-negotiated handover was delayed by U.S. concerns that Afghan authorities might release some of the more dangerous inmates at the Parwan detention facility, located near the U.S. Bagram military base. The deal was concluded just hours before Kerry's unannounced stop in Kabul, though, an agreement in which he said the United States has great confidence.

"In this arrangement, the sovereignty of Afghanistan is fully protected, but President Karzai agrees there are certain people there who shouldn't necessarily be out creating problems. And so we're very comfortable," said Kerry.

Karzai said Afghan authorities will review U.S. intelligence reports on those prisoners thought to be a more permanent threat to Afghan and allied security forces.

"On good grounds and confirmed information about an individual who is a threat to us, definitely the Afghan laws have a procedure for that and under Afghan laws we will keep such a person in custody."

Secretary Kerry and President Karzai both endorsed Taliban plans to open an office in Doha as part of the Afghan reconciliation process.

With international security forces preparing to wind-down operations by December 2014, Kerry said the United States hopes Taliban fighters will cut ties with al-Qaida, give up their weapons, and embrace Afghan constitutional protections for women and minorities.

But if they do not, he said President Barack Obama has made clear that the United States will not allow America's considerable sacrifices in this long fight to be reversed.

"The Taliban hopefully will understand that peace and peace talks are the best way to resolve the differences and engage in the political process rather than choose a road of violence," said Kerry.

Taliban leaders have so far refused to meet with Karzai, calling him an agent of the United States. But he said those talks, informally, already are underway.

"It's in their interest to renounce violence. It's in their interest to stop killing their fellow citizens," said Karzai. "It's in their interest to stop hurting the security forces of the international community. It's good for them to come back to their own homeland and to raise their families and children and to have a better standard of living. It's good for them."

This is Kerry's sixth trip to Kabul since 2008, and U.S. officials are counting on his personal history with Karzai to soothe an often-contentious relationship.

Speaking to reporters at the presidential palace, Karzai said the media misinterpreted comments about U.S. forces and Taliban fighters to make it appear that he was accusing them of colluding to destabilize Afghanistan.

But he stood behind allegations that U.S. Special Forces in Wardak province backed local militia accused of torturing and killing civilians, a situation resolved by an agreement to withdraw U.S. forces from that part of the province.

"When I say something publicly to this effect this is not meant to offend our allies but to correct the situation. I'm responsible for the protection of the Afghan people. I'm the president of this country. It's my job," said Karzai.

Kerry said they discussed those comments and he is comfortable with the president's explanation, saying there is no disagreement about the U.S. role to improve Afghan security and encourage the Taliban to make peace, especially ahead of elections next year.

"Mr. President, you, I think, stand on the brink of a remarkable legacy for having brought Afghanistan through an amazingly difficult time. There are still difficulties ahead. There are still challenges. But what you have committed to in the context of this election is historic," said Kerry.

During this visit, Kerry also planned to meet with civil society officials and electoral leaders about preparations for nationwide voting scheduled for April 2014.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More