Night raids to figure at talks with US
KABUL (PAN): Talks on a strategic cooperation pact with the United States would begin next year, despite a warning from President Hamid Karzai to walk out of the agreement, a foreign ministry official said on Sunday.
Nighttime raids and civilian house searches by NATO-led soldiers, a huge concern for the Afghan government, would figure prominently at the negotiations, the ministry spokesman Janan Musazai told a news conference in Kabul.
Late on Saturday, President Karzai warned Afghanistan would not sign the agreement if foreign troops did not halt the nighttime raids.
Opposed by Afghanistan's neighbours, the deal allowing the creation of American military bases in the country for a decade is close to being finalised. The pact, endorsed by the Loya Jirga in mid-November, will go to parliament for approval.
President Karzai's warning to walk out of the planned accord came after last month's civilian casualties in International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) airstrikes in Paktia, Kandahar and Kapisa provinces.
The issue would be discussed in line with the suggestions of the traditional Loya Jirga, which sought an immediate stop to willful operations by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, Musazai promised.
Negotiations would be held with the European Union on a similar pact in the beginning of 2012, said Musazai, who continued the agreement would provide for security, political, cultural and economic cooperation.
About the opening of Taliban's political office, the spokesman said the fighters were yet to have an address in Qatar. The Afghan government had been involved in talks on the subject, he said, explaining the Taliban's office was yet to be set up.
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