Kabul : Afghan and US negotiators have finished a draft of a contentious security pact to be presented to a traditional council next week, said President Hamid Karzai, but added that there remain disagreements between the two countries over the
final content of the accord.
Without approval of the Loya Jirga, a gathering of several thousand prominent figures from across the country, Afghanistan will likely refuse to sign the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement, Karzai said. And if the Loya Jirga does approve it, the agreement still will require a final nod from parliament.
US officials refused to comment on what they described as an ongoing diplomatic process. Karzai provided few details regarding how and when the draft was finalised. Negotiations have been protracted and often acrimonious. In the end it took a surprise visit to Afghanistan in October by US Secretary of State John Kerry to produce the outlines of a deal.
After a lengthy meeting with Karzai, the two announced that an agreement had been reached in principle on the major elements of the pact.
The sweeping document incorporates the usual Status of Forces Protection Agreement, which the United States signs with every country where its troops are stationed, along with a wide range of other clauses. It covers everything from customs duties on goods the US imports for its troops and development projects to the question of whether a US service member can be prosecuted for criminal offences in Afghanistan.
“Because this is an ongoing diplomatic discussion, we’re declining to comment on the state of the text or the process that got us to this point,” said Robert Hilton, US Embassy spokesman in Kabul.