Us Officials Say Progress Made in Afghan Talks
Washington – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry extended talks on Saturday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the contentious security deal to allow American troops to remain in the country after the NATO-led military mission ends next year.Talks on a bilateral security agreement that the United States wants by the end of October were extended by at least two hours and a spokesman for Karzai’s office said they would go on until the early afternoon.
U.S. officials said some progress had been made but it was unclear if that was the reason for the continued talks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the negotiations.Kerry’s unannounced overnight visit to Kabul comes as talks foundered over issues of Afghan sovereignty despite a year of negotiations. Discussions have repeatedly stalled in recent weeks over Karzai’s demand for American guarantees against future foreign intervention from countries like Pakistan, and U.S. demands for any post-2014 residual force to be able to conduct counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
The situation deteriorated in the past week following a series of angry comments from Karzai that the United States and NATO were repeatedly violating Afghanistan’s sovereignty and inflicting suffering on its people.Another possible reason for the outburst could have been the capture in eastern Afghanistan of senior Pakistani Taliban commander LatifMehsud by U.S. forces on Oct. 5, the same day Kerry and Karzai last spoke. Karzai saw the move as an infringement on Afghan sovereignty.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Meshud’s group had claimed responsibility for the 2010 bombing attempt in Times Square and said they would carry out future attacks.Mehsud is a senior deputy to Pakistani Taliban leader HakimullahMehsud. The Pakistani Taliban has waged a decade-long insurgency against Islamabad from sanctuaries along the Afghan border and also helped the Afghan Taliban in their war against U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. (AP)