White House says security pact negotiation with Afghanistan ongoing
The White House said on Tuesday that negotiations with Afghanistan on a Bilateral Security Agreement is "ongoing," and an agreement can only be declared final until ratified by that country's consultative Loya Jirga, the traditional tribal assembly, Xinhua reported.
Responding to reports emerging from Kabul that Afghanistan and the United States have finalized details of the crucial security pact, Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, said in his daily briefing that Secretary of State John Kerry and the Afghan side have reached a "general agreement" about the pact last month, but "this agreement isn't reached until the Loya Jirga has passed judgement on it."
Media reports on Tuesday quoted Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi as saying the two sides have agreed to give U.S. troops immunity from Afghan laws and allow them to enter Afghan homes in exceptional circumstances, both crucial for U.S. troops to remain in that country post 2014, when they were slated to withdraw.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was reportedly against both clauses, but relented after U.S. President Barack Obama promised to write a letter to the Afghan people acknowledging mistakes were made during the war, according to reports.
"This issue of raids has always been a subject of negotiation and consultation with the Afghans," said Carney of the clause that allows U.S. troops to enter Afghan homes in exceptional circumstances. "The general issue of civilian casualties has of course been of concern, understandably, to the Afghan government, and concern to the United States."
Afghan tribal and political leaders are due to gather in Kabul this week for the Loya Jirga to decide on the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would determine if U.S. troops can stay after the 2014 drawdown deadline.