US troop status up to elders, says Karzai
KABUL (PAN): After a marathon series of meetings, President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said they had agreed on some major issues pertaining to the much-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), but the issue of jurisdiction for American forces remains unresolved.
Both men, appearing at a joint press conference in Kabul after a series of meetings, said they had reached agreement on many contentious sovereignty issues and the safety of Afghan citizens at the hands of American and allied troops after 2014, when most foreign troops are leaving.
But Karzai said a Loya Jirga, a traditional grand assembly of tribal elders, was being convened within a month to make a final decision on on the issue of jurisdiction for any crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
He said the security agreement would be then send to the Afghan Parliament for its approval. “We have reached an agreement on the respect of national sovereignty, preventing civilian casualties, a definition for aggression and also the prevention of unilateral acts by foreign forces,” Karzai said.
“We reached an agreement on that, but the issue of jurisdiction for foreign forces is above the authority of the Afghan government, and that is up to the Afghan people and the Loya Jirga.”
Kerry responded that any decision made by the Loya Jirga and Parliament would be respected, but if the jurisdiction issue was not resolved, there would be no agreement.
He said his discussions with Karzai were important and that his country respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty, rights and demands of its people.
He said: “We want the people of Afghanistan to live in peace and stability. Anyone who commits a crime will be punished; something the United States has practically proved.”
He said American soldiers, who committed crimes in Afghanistan, had been jailed in the United States.
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