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    Strategic accord with US should serve national interest: Karzai

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai has directed his security advisor to discuss with US officials the proposed strategic cooperation agreement, insisting the pact should serve Afghanistan's national interests, the Presidential Palace said on Sunday.

    Rangin Dadfar Spanta was directed this at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the president at his Palace on Sunday, the President's Office said in a statement.

    Security situation across the country was also discussed at the meeting.

    The US government sent a draft of the agreement some months ago to the Afghan government, which then resent it  to the US with some conditions.

    An end to nighttime military operations, the imposition of strict restrictions on international soldiers to avoid harming civilians and the legalisation of their presence in Afghanistan are some of the conditions the government had mentioned in the draft.

    Karzai had previously said the agreement would be sent to the Parliament for approval after being discussed by a traditional Loya Jirga, which is expected to be called into session in the near future to give opinions on the accord.

    In today's meeting, the issue of private security companies also came under discussion, with Karzai saying operations of these companies were unacceptable. He ordered the officials concerned to dissolve the remaining firms as soon as possible.

    On August 7, 2010, Karzai ordered the Ministry of Interior to dissolve all private security companies in the country.

    There are about 54 security companies registered with the government, with another 57 operating with having legal documents.

    As many as eight out of the 54 registered and all the 75 unregistered companies had so far been disbanded.

    Interior minister Bismillah Mohammadi told the meeting that special steps were being taken to arrest or eliminate insurgents creating problems for welfare projects.

    frm/ma



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