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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs