Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fwd: Afghanistan

'Rice arrived in Afghanistan under a cloak of secrecy Saturday, and the White House did not confirm she was here until after she was meeting with Karzai on Monday evening, along with other top officials from both Washington and Kabul, and Karzai's senior aides.


The meeting lasted several hours, and it continued into what Aimal Faizi, Karzai's spokesman, who was there, described as a working dinner. And while the tone was said to be generally diplomatic and polite, the president at one point became angry at U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham.


Cunningham voiced objection to an extra demand by the loya jirga: the release of all Guantánamo inmates. He insisted that U.S. law governs the release of the prisoners and that the issue had no bearing on the bilateral security agreement, or BSA.


"That made the president very angry; his reaction was very strong and intense," Faizi said..



For her part, Rice warned Karzai that his refusal to sign the agreement would jeopardize Western aid to Afghanistan, including an annual $4-billion to support its military, which is entirely dependent on U.S. aid.


"The lack of a signed BSA would jeopardize NATO and other nations' pledges of assistance," she told Karzai.


She added that the United States would "continue to work with Afghanistan to support a smooth security transition and to help ensure free and fair elections."


Karzai's strongest language was again said to be over the issue of U.S. counterterrorism raids on private Afghan homes. Despite having approved in principle a security agreement that allowed for such missions, with limits, in his address to the loya jirga Sunday, he insisted the raids should be banned immediately and completely or he would cancel the security agreement.


Such raids are the main combat activity remaining to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and have been identified by U.S. commanders as a crucial, continuing mission.


"The president insisted on the stance: a total ban on home raids since yesterday," Faizi said. "He assured Madame Rice they will get the BSA signed – you will get a BSA signed, but give the Afghan people time to see that the U.S. has changed its behavior, that home raids are banned in practical terms."


He said Rice deferred that issue to the U.S. military commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who assured that he had given instructions to his forces to "take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties and that the commanders will be acting in accordance to the recommendations of the loya jirga and what is said in the BSA,"'


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