The United States and Afghanistan have set plans to negotiate over a new deal, under which American forces could be immune from prosecution in Afghan courts. US and Afghan representatives will hold meetings in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on the weekend, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The details of the negotiations between the two sides will be disclosed after the deal is signed, the statement added. The American and Afghan officials are also expected to discuss setting up permanent US military bases in Afghanistan. In a recent meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington, US President Barack Obama said that Afghanistan must grant US forces legal immunity if Kabul wants American troops to stay there beyond 2014. The Afghan leader, however, said the negotiations with US officials over the issue inquire the presence of the members of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, a “grand assembly” of political and community leaders.
Moreover, he said Kabul would not sign any new security agreement with the United States until the prisoners held in US custody were transferred to Afghan authorities.The Obama administration is contemplating a plan to keep up to 9,000 US troopers in Afghanistan to conduct what it calls counterterrorism operations and provide assistance to Afghan forces. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but the country remains insecure despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led forces there. AO/HJL