U.S., Afghanistan to start security talks

Nov. 15, 2012 at 10:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Talks with Afghanistan concern developing a status-of-forces arrangement, not a plan for further military intervention if the need arises, a U.S. official said.

The United States and Afghanistan were to begin Thursday negotiating terms of a new security setup once U.S. combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The talks, which could last up to a year, will attempt to reach agreement on a new joint security arrangement that satisfies both the U.S. goal of denying terrorists a base and Afghanistan's demands for sovereignty, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The United States has told Afghanistan the talks are meant to develop a status-of-forces arrangement that outlines the legal position of U.S. forces in-country, not a defense treaty promising military intervention if needed, the Tribune said.

"We are not negotiating a security guarantee," a senior U.S. official said. But a big stumbling block is the U.S. push for immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan for U.S. forces accused of crimes, officials said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that U.S. troops be held accountable under Afghan law, while the U.S. officials insisted that troops accused of crimes in Afghanistan be tried in the U.S. legal system, the Tribune said.

Immunity from prosecution was the same issue that dashed similar talks between the United States and Iraq in 2011.

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