Afghanistan, US revive talks on security agreement

Kabul, Aug 25 : The bilateral talks between Afghanistan and the US over a proposed security pact have resumed after remaining suspended for more than two months, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday.

"The new stage of the talks is going on. The Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai are leading the Afghan side," Karzai told reporters at a press conference in Arg, the presidential palace of Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.

Negotiations between the US and Afghan government on Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) formally began in Kabul in November last year.

The Afghan government suspended the talks June 19 in the wake of opening of the Taliban outfit's office in Qatari capital of Doha with Taliban flag and plaque of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, name of the ousted Taliban regime.

However, Karzai said earlier talks were delayed for technical reasons.

"As soon as the talks move into a final stage and the document becomes ready, Afghanistan will convene a tradition Loya Jirga or grand assembly of chieftains and notables to seek people's opinions with regard to the security pact," Karzai said.

"The signing of the agreement with the United States will depend on the decisions of the Jirga," he added without disclosing the date for the assembly.

The US ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and the US commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) General Joseph Dunford would lead the US side in the talks, according to officials.

While the US, according to some media reports, requested Afghanistan to sign the pact in October, Karzai said the country has its own considerations.

Inking BSA is part of the long-term strategic partnership agreement signed by Karzai and his US counterpart Barack Obama in May 2012.

The controversial agreement, if signed, would guarantee the presence of US military for several years in Afghanistan, a contentious issue that has been opposed by some circles at home and neighbouring countries.

--IANS (Posted on 25-08-2013)

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