BSA Talks in Sensitive Phase, Says Official
KABUL – Talks between Afghanistan and the United States on a proposed security agreement have reached a very sensitive phase, but some sticking points remained unresolved, a senior official said on Tuesday. “Right now, the parleys have reached a point where President Karzai and the nation have to make a final decision,” the official told Pajhwok Afghan News on condition of anonymity.
He said two major points from Afghanistan’s prospective were yet to be addressed — the definition of a guarantee of protection against foreign aggression and immunity from prosecution for foreign troops after 2014. The official added the Afghan government was insisting on the US to come up with a clear definition of foreign aggression. Both issues are of great concern and the Afghan nation has to make a final decision.
About US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s optimism that the security agreement would be in place by November this year, the official said the timing of concluding the accord had no importance for the Afghan government. He explained Kabul wanted the interests of Afghanistan to be protected and its demands endorsed.
Hagel told US soldiers in South Korea, “I hope we’ll have that agreement by the end of October, because we just can’t move without it.” The talks that began in November last year were suspended in June this year and restarted last month. National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta and former finance minister Dr Ashraf Ghani represent the Afghan government in negotiations and on the other side of the table are US Ambassador to Kabul, James Cunningham, and the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford.
Karzai suspended the talks after the Taliban opened an office in Doha that looked like the embassy of a government in exile, arguing the US had breached promises about how the political office would work. Karzai last month said the bilateral talks had resumed after remaining suspended for more than two months.
“The new stage of the talks is going on. The Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai are leading the Afghan side,” Karzai told reporters at a press conference. The controversial agreement, if signed, would guarantee the presence of US military for several years in Afghanistan, a contentious issue that has been opposed by some circles at home and in neighbouring countries. (PAN)