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Afghanistan national assembly backs pact with US

Last Updated: Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 18:55

Kabul: An overwhelming majority of delegates
at a traditional national assembly on Saturday backed calls from
Afghanistan`s president for a long-term security pact with the
US on some conditions, including an end to unpopular night
raids by military forces searching for insurgents.

By midday, more than two-thirds of the delegates
attending the meeting had expressed support for President
Hamid Karzai`s call for a security pact that will govern the
presence of US troops after 2014, when most international
forces are to have left or moved into support roles.

More than 2,000 delegates attended the four-day assembly,
known as a Loya Jirga, and were divided into 40 committees to
discuss negotiations that are currently under way. More than
30 committee heads had endorsed Karzai`s call for an agreement
by noon. Karzai was expected to address the meeting at the end
of the day.

The jirga`s findings are not binding, but they are likely
to bolster Karzai`s negotiating position with the United
States during talks for a written US-Afghan agreement, which
the US calls a Strategic Partnership Document.

Karzai does not need the jirga`s permission to broker a
pact, but he wants its approval to strengthen his position at
the talks.

Both sides visualise a force of several thousand, which
would train Afghan forces and help with counterterrorism
operations. But the legal status of that force, how it would
operate, where it would be based, and what it could or could
not do has held up the talks.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 16:19
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