‘Foreign pullout to boost Afghan security’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan will become a “more secure” country once US-led forces leave the Asian state by the end of 2014, Press TV reports.

Speaking to reporters on Monday upon his arrival in Kabul and following his meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, the Afghan president expressed optimism that the Afghanistan’s security will improve after the pullout of the US-led forces.

“Afghanistan will be a more secure and better place,” he said.

Commenting on the US demand to grant immunity to the American soldiers who will remain in Afghanistan post-2014, Karzai reiterated that the negotiations over the issue inquires a second round of discussions with the presence of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, a “grand assembly” of political and community leaders.

On Friday, in a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart, Obama said that Afghanistan must grant US forces legal immunity if Kabul wants American troops to stay in the country beyond 2014.

Karzai noted, “The issue of immunity is under discussion [and] it is going to take eight to nine months before we reach [an] agreement.”

The Obama administration is contemplating a plan to keep up to 9,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan to conduct what it calls counter-terrorism operations and provide assistance to Afghan forces.

Afghanistan and the US signed a strategic partnership agreement in May, which would allow the US to keep some military bases in Afghanistan after its key forces withdraw from the country.

Karzai, however, said Kabul would not sign any new security agreements with the United States until the prisoners held in US custody were transferred to Afghan authorities.

During the press conference, Obama pledged that US-led forces would hand the lead role in the ‘fight against militants’ to Afghan forces in the next few months.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The invasion removed the Taliban regime from power; but, torn apart by a war that has lasted for 12 years, Afghanistan is still dealing with untamed violence, rising insecurity, and social problems.

AZA/AO/SZH/HJL