October 12, 2013 11:32:25 PM
KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday said a partial agreement was reached with Afghanistan on a security accord, but the potentially deal-breaking issue of jurisdiction for American forces remains unresolved.
Kerry spoke with President Hamid Karzai after a marathon series of meetings and repeated delays of his departure from Afghanistan. Both men said agreement had been reached on a series of contentious sovereignty issues and the safety of Afghan citizens at the hands of American and allied troops that had deadlocked talks in the past year.
But Karzai said he would punt the issue of who has who jurisdiction for any crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014 to a national consultative assembly of tribal elders, or Loya Jirga, that he has asked to be convened within a month. Their opinion on whether to approve or disapprove an American demand that its forces be remanded to U.S. military courts would then be sent to the Afghan parliament.
"We have reached an agreement on the respect of national sovereignty, preventing civilian casualties, a definition for aggression and also the prevention of unilateral acts by foreign forces. We reached an agreement on that, but the issue of jurisdiction for foreign forces is above the authority of the Afghan government and that is up to the Afghan people and the Loya Jirga," Karzai said.
Kerry responded that any decision made by the Loya Jirga and parliament would be respected, but if the jurisdiction issue was not resolved there would be no agreement.