WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- A deal between the United States and Afghanistan on special operations formalizes a process started late last year, a U.S. Defense Department official said.
The United States and Afghanistan last weekend signed a memorandum of understanding that gives the Afghan government oversight on night raids.
U.S. Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, said the agreement formalizes the mission intent of letting Afghanistan take the lead in military operations in the country. Kirby said U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan wanted to accelerate a process already under way.
"Since December of last year, all -- 100 percent -- (of these missions) have been Afghan-led," he said in a Pentagon briefing. "The process embedded in the MOU is really just formalizing a process that's been in effect since late last year."
International forces operating in Afghanistan are taking the steps to hand security responsibility to national security forces by 2014.
Afghan officials had said they were interested in national reconciliation talks with members of the Taliban as the 2014 deadline draws near. Negotiations stalled after a series of missteps by U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan earlier this year.