Karzai confirms US seeking permanent bases in Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed Tuesday that the United States are seeking to establish permanent bases in Afghanistan to target al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in the region, DPA reported.
Addressing a press conference in his fortified presidential palace, Karzai said that his government was negotiating with US officials over the legal and strategic details of the agreement.
"We believe that a long-term relationship with the United States is in the interest of Afghanistan," Karzai said. He said he hoped for a relationship "that brings security to Afghanistan, that brings economic prosperity to Afghanistan and an end to violence."
He did not give a date for finalizing the deal, but said any long-term partnership would need to be approved by the parliament and the Loya Jirga, the traditional assembly of tribal leaders.
He also stressed that any long-term US bases would not be "used as base against other countries and that Afghanistan is not a place from where our neighbours could be threatened."
Last month, US Senator Lindsey Graham in an interview to NBC news said he wanted President Barack Obama's administration to consider such permanent bases after NATO-led troops hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces, which is planned for late 2014.
The Republican senator said that the bases "would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back in Afghanistan," which "could change their behavior."
Concerns are rising that the Afghanistan will not be ready to handle its own security by the handover date.