Afghan- US talks on security deal underway: FM
KABUL (PAN): Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul on Sunday said talks with the United States officials on a detailed security agreement had begun as part of a recently signed strategic partnership accord.
Describing the parliamentary approval of the strategic agreement between Kabul and Washington as a positive step, Rassoul said the move showed a majority of Afghans backed the pact.
The lower house of parliament, Wolesi Jirga, on Saturday approved the US-Afghan strategic cooperation deal with an overwhelming majority, amid reports that Iran had set aside a colossal amount of money for lawmakers to convince them to block the approval.
The agreement will now go to the upper house, Meshrano Jirga, for approval. The accord says after its approval, talks on a security agreement should start between the two countries and efforts be made to implement the accord in a year.
The foreign minister said talks on the security accord had recently begun between Afghan and US officials. He said the accord would reveal the number of US troops to be staying in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign troops are scheduled to leave.
“The agreement will define the role of US troops after the scheduled pullout and how to legalise their presence,” Rassoul explained.
He said bilateral talks on security cooperation would last for a year and after being finalised, an agreement in this regard would be sent to parliament for approval.
Under the strategic accord, a detailed security agreement should be signed to replace the 2003 agreement between the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the then Interior Minister Mohammad Yunus Qanuni. The 2003 agreement allowed foreign troops to conduct operations everywhere in the country and those killed or wounded during the operations would have no right of appeal.
Over the past one year, Afghanistan has signed strategic agreements with India, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
The foreign minister said Afghanistan is keen to sign an agreement with China on security arrangements and President Karzai was expected to discuss with Chinese officials during his visit to attend the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.
The summit is slated for June 6th in China. Afghanistan may attend the event as an observer.
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