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US-Afghan talks deadlocked on troop presence post-2014: NYT

Last Updated: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 14:42

New York: Talks between the US and Afghanistan over the future of American military presence in the war-torn country are deadlocked with both sides refusing to budge on Washington`s insistence that its troops retain the right to enter Afghan homes, a media report said here on Monday.
Senior Afghan officials have said that the negotiations appear to be at a "profound impasse" just days before an Afghan grand council is scheduled to meet to discuss a security pact for the extended stay of US troops after the drawdown at the end of next year, the New York Times reported.

The NYT report said both sides have refused to budge on US negotiators` insistence that US troops retain the right, "at least in some form", to enter Afghan homes.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has openly opposed allowing US troops to enter Afghan homes for years.

Karzai is understood to have said that, "In no way will you be allowed to go into Afghan homes. If that is needed, show us your intelligence and we will go in alone."

However, a senior American official in Washington said he "would not characterise remaining differences as an impasse," adding that the talks were continuing and it was normal for such negotiations to run until the last moment.

"Not only Karzai but a broad section of Afghanistan`s political leadership want to reach an agreement," said the official on condition of anonymity.

Afghan officials have said Karzai would not change his position before the grand council or `Loya Jirga` scheduled later this week in which 3,000 officials, elders and notables from around the country would meet to ratify or reject the security agreement.

An official from the US-led coalition said that Karzai was trying to please hardliners within his administration.

"We`re not panicking," the official said.

The Afghans have said that if Washington continues to insist that American troops be allowed to enter Afghan homes, they would present versions of both sides to the Loya Jirga.

One official has acknowledged that the Loya Jirga would almost certainly reject the agreement with the American wording, which would make it all but impossible politically for Karzai to make a subsequent deal, the NYT report said.

The talks have been led on the Afghan side by Karzai, and on the American side by Ambassador James Cunningham and the military coalition commander, General Joseph Dunford.

During talks, Karzai has told Cunningham and Dunford that he was unwilling to make any further compromise, prompting the American negotiators to state that they would go back to Washington and see if there was any more flexibility.

Dunford has proposed that the wording of the agreement would be modified to say that troops would only enter homes "on extraordinary occasions".

The US military has always demanded immunity for its troops in other countries.

In this regard, Karzai is willing to try to persuade the Loya Jirga to agree on immunity, but not on the raiding of homes, an Afghan official said in the NYT report.

First Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 14:42
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