By Barbara Starr, with reporting from Chelsea Carter
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spoke by telephone Monday to discuss a brewing controversy over the handover of detainees being held by NATO forces inside Afghanistan at Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base.
"The Secretary and President Karzai did have a phone call earlier today and expressed a shared commitment to implement the terms of the memorandum of understanding on detention operations in Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman George Little said, Little said the conversation was “cordial.”
Little would not discuss specifics of the dispute but a coalition official told CNN the US is holding on to several Afghan detainees because of concerns about whether Afghan authorities will properly handle their cases and under what circumstances they might be released.
The US is continuing to maintain custody of several prisoners of other nationalities which were not part of the agreement which was the linchpin in a larger agreement that outlines the gradual transfer of power from U.S. forces to Afghanistan as American troops prepare to withdraw.
Roughly 99% of the detainees in custody before the agreement was signed in March have been turned over to Afghan authorities, Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for coalition, said by telephone.
"We have paused the transfer of the remaining detainees until our concerns are met," he said.