Foreign ministry reaffirms terms for deal with US
KABUL (PAN): The Afghan government remained willing to sign the strategic cooperation pact with the United States if the traditional Loya Jirga’s recommendations were accepted, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on Monday.
Held in mid-November 2011, the assembly of elders and government officials proposed the deal should be signed if the US guaranteed respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and Islam in addition to halting night raids.
Discussions on signing the agreement have long been underway, but they have not yet yielded any concrete result. Privy to the talks, Afghan officials say the night raids and transfer of prisons to Afghan control are the Karzai administration’s key terms for signing the pact.
President Karzai recently warned that he would not sign the accord if the night raids and civilian house searches by NATO-led soldiers were not stopped.
As Afghanistan sticks to its conditions, reports say, the US has suspended the negotiations. The US and its allies initially wanted to have the deal agreed before the NATO conference in Chicago in May.
Asked about the suspension of talks, foreign ministry spokesman, Janan Musazai, said: "The Afghan government and people have clearly expressed their willingness for signing long-term pact with the international fraternity, particularly with the US."
Instead of time, the content and quality of the agreement was important to the Afghan government, the spokesman said, calling the country’s sovereignty a vital condition for agreements with foreign states.
A strategic accord with any other country would be inked in accordance with the declaration of the Loya Jirga, Musazai stressed.
In order to break the deadlock, the US has suggested hiving off the two controversial points into a separate document and agreeing to deal with at a later stage. However, Karzai has spurned the idea as a compromise on sovereignty.
Despite Karzai’s repeated calls for an end to night raids and house searches, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) insists that such operations have been very effective in combating the insurgency.
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