Loya Jirga to decide on immunity for US troops
15 January, 2013
KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday linked immunity for American troops to a Loya Jirga decision, warning the bilateral security agreement (BSA) would not be implemented if commitments between Afghanistan and the United States remained unenforced.
Following his return from a three-day state visit to Washington, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that he had reached agreement with US Counterpart Barak Obama and other American officials on a number of important issues.
During his trip, Afghanistan and the United States agreed that all foreign-controlled jails would be handed over to local authorities and foreign troops would leave rural areas and return to their respective countries by the end of next year.
In response to the query if the security situation would worsen after the pullout of the International Security Assistance Force soldiers, the president said there would be no major problem. "By no means...we will be more secure and Afghanistan will be a better place."
Hinting that the decision on the ticklish question of immunity would be taken in eight to nine months, the president said discussions on exemption from prosecuting the post-2014 US troops under Afghan laws were ongoing. Before his return to Kabul, the president told a US TV channel that his people would accept the Obama administration's demand for exempting American troops from prosecution under Afghanistan's laws.
In an interview with CNN, he said: "I can tell you with relatively good confidence that they will say ‘alright, let's do it. And I'm sure that they will understand."
The Afghans needed some type of a US presence for "broader security and stability" after the 2014 exit of ISAF soldiers, Karzai acknowledged, hoping his nation would grant immunity to the American troops left in Afghanistan.
At the media briefing, he said a small number of US troops would be deployed to remain confined to their bases after 2014. The US had warned of withdrawing all its troops from Afghanistan in case they were denied legal protection, he added.
With negotiations on BSA still ongoing, the American have handed Afghan officials a document detailing their terms and conditions. But the conditions were unacceptable to his administration, Karzai explained.
"I'm satisfied with the outcome of my US visit. We have attained the goals we were seeking to ensure our national sovereignty," he said, reiterating the security accord would not be enforced if bilateral commitments were not honoured.