World

October 17, 2013

Kerry, Karzai make progress on security agreement negotiations

Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – After weekend meetings in Kabul, Afghanistan, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Karzai had resolved all but one of the major issues critical to a bilateral security agreement between the two countries.

And en route to London this morning, Kerry consulted several times via phone with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the meetings, according to senior State Department officials who spoke with reporters in a background briefing.

Last night, Kerry and Karzai spoke during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, positive about the progress they’d made.

“I believe that in the last 24 hours, as we have worked hard at these issues that really have been negotiated over now for more than 11 months, that we have resolved … the major issues that [President Karzai] went through,” Kerry said.

Kerry said he and Karzai “have put ourselves in a position for an enduring [U.S.-Afghanistan] partnership going forward in the years ahead.”

In his remarks, Karzai had described his main issues as national sovereignty, prevention of civilian casualties, and a clear definition of invasion by foreign forces.

But both leaders acknowledged that, on the outstanding issue of claiming U.S. jurisdiction for U.S. troops who are accused of committing crimes while deployed in Afghanistan, the decision about whether to allow this agreement in the bilateral agreement will be left to the Loya Jirga, or council of Afghan elders, which Karzai has called to meet in November.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said in July after meeting with Karzai in Kabul that getting the security agreement signed by October fit in with his best military advice for putting in place the framework for the continuing U.S. and NATO effort in the country after Dec. 31, 2014, when the current NATO mandate expires.

Last night Kerry said his delegation was pleased that the agreement reached could be submitted to a Loya Jirga, where it will go through the appropriate political process, including the issue of jurisdiction for U.S. troops who act outside the law while in Afghanistan post-2014.

“The question of jurisdiction is an appropriate one for the president to submit to the Loya Jirga, and we have high confidence that the people of Afghanistan will see the benefits that exist in this agreement,” the secretary said.

“But we need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement,” Kerry added. “So we hope that that will be resolved. And it’s up to the Afghan people, as it should be.”

The secretary explained that if an American who is part of any expeditionary force under agreement from the Afghan government were to violate any law, the United States would prosecute to the full measure of that law and any perpetrator of any incident or crime would be punished.

“There is no immunity,” he said, referring to what some call immunity for U.S. troops posted overseas.

“Let me make that clear: No immunity,” Kerry added. “And we have proven in many cases, unfortunately too many instances, that when somebody has violated the law, they have paid the price. There are people in prison today in the United States of America who have paid that price.”

In terms of jurisdiction, Kerry said, where the United States has forces serving in other parts of the world, including Japan, South Korea, Europe, Africa and elsewhere, they operate under the same standard.

“We completely respect that the [Afghan] president should decide appropriately that this issue ought to be decided in his Loya Jirga,” Kerry said.

But, he added, “if [the jurisdiction issue] isn’t resolved, we can’t send our forces in places because we don’t subject United States citizens to that kind of uncertainty with respect to their rights and lives.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson)

Living the American Dream

SOUTHWEST ASIA — On Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet flag flew over the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time. People across the country took what jobs they could find, getting paid a fraction of what they made before as...
 
 

AFSOUTH Airmen visit orphans

(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman) Staff Sgt. Katie Adams, Master Sgt. Roberto Vasquez and Capt. Sarah Hartenstein, all members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), take a group photo with the children at Casa de Corderitos orphanage outside the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 18. The 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) members...
 
 

AF begins enlisted PME enrollment notifications

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Last week, the Air Force Personnel Center initiated a phased approach to notify approximately 83,000 Airmen of the requirement to enroll in the applicable enlisted professional military education distance learning course. AFPC will notify 20,000 Airmen at the beginning of each month until all members have been notified....
 

 
Congeniality_pict

More than just Ms. Congeniality: Airman competes for homeless female veterans

For Tech. Sgt. Charmaine Pozo, the Ms. Veteran America contest was not about glamourous pageantry. It was about tireless advocacy – for a minimally acknowledged segment of those who have served in uniform: homeless female...
 
 

Enlisted evaluation, promotion systems updated

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — With static closeout dates for each rank in place, the Air Force announced it will update the enlisted performance report forms and utilize new forced distribution and senior rater stratification restrictions to round out the incremental changes to enlisted evaluation and promotion systems with performance as the driving factor in promotions. For...
 
 

Don’t throw a fit — get fit

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — It’s a controversial topic that has been brought up by many Airmen — changing the abdominal circumference standards on the Air Force fitness assessment test. After months of debate, it was decided by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III that the standards will stay the same....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>