Hagel: Afghan minister says security pact to be signed in 'timely manner'
December 8th, 2013
06:27 AM ET

Hagel: Afghan minister says security pact to be signed in 'timely manner'

By CNN Staff

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says his Afghan counterpart assured him that an important security pact will be reached with Kabul in a "timely manner," despite a failure so far to forge a deal.

Hagel made the remark during a visit to Afghanistan on Saturday. What is known as the bilateral security agreement - ready to be implemented but still unsigned - initially has been front and center in Hagel's visit.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Hagel • Karzai • Military
November 24th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

Loya jirga approves U.S.-Afghan security deal; asks Karzai to sign

By Masoud Popolzai and Ben Brumfield, CNN

A vast majority of 2,500 Afghan elders voted Sunday at a traditional gathering to recommend a joint security agreement with the United States.

Members attending the 4-day-long loya jirga urged President Hamid Karzai to sign it before the end of the year.

Thousands of tribal elders made their way to the capital to join the loya jirga, a grand assembly, to confer on the key issue of whether or not to support the presence in their country of a limited number of U.S. troops beyond next year.

Amid some skepticism, they decided it was a good idea. U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry, who finished hammering out the deal with Karzai the day before the loya jirga began, was hopeful that they would.

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When is an apology not an apology?
November 20th, 2013
02:04 PM ET

When is an apology not an apology?

By Elise Labott

In the delicate dance of diplomacy, the word "apology" can be a misstep.

Such is the case with a proposed letter of assurances from the United States to the people of Afghanistan, which is emerging as a way to overcome remaining hurdles to allowing some U.S. troops to remain in that country post-2014.

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November 20th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Rice: Reports of a U.S. apology to Afghanistan are false

By Chelsea J. Carter and Elise Labott

Reports the United States is on the verge of a security agreement with Afghanistan that includes a formal letter of apology for past mistakes by American troops are completely false, the National Security adviser told CNN on Tuesday.

The statements came amid claims by Afghan officials that the Obama administration offered to write the letter as part of an effort to keep a small number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan well past the 2014 deadline to withdraw.

"No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on CNN's "Situation Room."

"Quite the contrary, we have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that (letter of apology) is not on the table."

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Afghanistan's Karzai agrees to new deadline for prison handover
Newly-freed Afghan prisoners walks after a ceremony handing over the Bagram prison to Afghan authorities, at the US airbase in Bagram north of Kabul on September 10, 2012.
March 17th, 2013
05:11 PM ET

Afghanistan's Karzai agrees to new deadline for prison handover

By CNN Staff

There's a new one-week deadline for handing over control of a U.S.-run detention center near Bagram Air Base to Afghan authorities, Afghanistan's president said Sunday.

On Sunday, Hamid Karzai's office said in a statement that he had agreed to a request from U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for one week "to carry out the full handover the prison."

"President Karzai agreed with the new time request and reminded Secretary Hagel that the transfer has been delayed several times in the past and that this time, the handover should take place," the statement said.

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Top US commander in Afghanistan warns Karzai comments increase risk
March 14th, 2013
12:43 PM ET

Top US commander in Afghanistan warns Karzai comments increase risk

By Barbara Starr

The commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is warning his top commanders of new risks of attacks due to rising tensions between NATO forces and the Afghan president, an ISAF official told CNN Thursday.

The personal e-mail Gen. Joseph Dunford sent Wednesday is not a formal threat advisory, said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The tensions between the NATO-led coalition forces - especially those from the United States - and President Hamid Karzai escalated after a bomb blast in Kabul last weekend that killed nine people.

Karzai said afterward that there are "ongoing daily talks between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the Gulf states."

Dunford quickly denounced Karzai's remark.

"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years. We have shed too much blood over the past 12 years. We have done too much to help the Afghan Security Forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," he said.

In the e-mail sent Wednesday, Dunford told commanders that Karzai's recent statements "could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces - he may also issue orders that put our forces at risk."

ISAF is currently in discussions with the Afghan government about the terms for the turnover of the detention facility at Bagram to the Afghans, as well as the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Wardak Province following still unsubstantiated complaints about U.S. troop misconduct there.

Dunford met with Karzai Wednesday to discuss the transfer of the detention center. The general said it "must be done in a way that meets the needs of Afghan sovereignty while mitigating the real threats that some of these detainees pose to Afghan and coalition forces.

"We will complete the transfer when the remaining issues have been resolved," Dunford said in a statement on ISAF's website.

Several media reported Karzai gave a speech Tuesday in which he suggested the government would take unilateral actions to assume control of the detention center if the transfer was delayed much longer.

In his e-mail, Dunford calls Karzai's remarks about Bagram "inflammatory speech."

ISAF called the general's warning "prudent given increased coalition casualties in recent days."

"ISAF routinely conducts assessments and adapts its protection posture to ensure our forces are prepared to meet potential threats and that they have a common understanding of the situation here in Afghanistan," the ISAF statement said. "General Dunford's e-mail is simply an example of this vigilance."

The complexity of Karzai
March 11th, 2013
06:25 PM ET

The complexity of Karzai

By Mike Mount

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not in an enviable position.

The man who has led the country for nearly 10 years is a difficult politician to deal with for the most part.

Beyond his seemingly outrageous comments toward the United States, he has also been called corrupt and often impossible to predict.

In his latest eyebrow-raiser following a bomb blast in Kabul that killed at least nine people, Karzai said on Sunday there are "ongoing daily talks between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the Gulf states."

The comment effectively claimed the United States was trying to foment continued violence inside Afghanistan.

The top commander of U.S. and allied forces, Gen. Joseph Dunford, quickly denounced the remark.
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Mark Jacobson: The Karzai we need
February 20th, 2013
02:06 PM ET

Mark Jacobson: The Karzai we need

EDITOR'S NOTE: From 2009-2011, Mark R. Jacobson (Twitter: @markondefense) served as the Deputy NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. He is now a Senior Advisor to the Truman National Security Project and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

From Mark Jacobson, Special to CNN

Some senior diplomats have called Afghan President Hamid Karzai the most difficult leader the United States has dealt with in modern times. In fairness, Afghanistan itself may be one of the most complex and unforgiving political environments any leader can ever have to deal with.

And deal with him they must. Since 2010 when, at a NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Karzai expressed the collective wish of the Afghan people for self-reliance, the United States and our allies have been moving toward Afghanistan, taking the lead on security. Both sides understood that this transition was neither going to be easy - nor completed - without disagreements about approach.

Karzai sensibly said that the "maturity" of the NATO-Afghan partnership would provide for the discussion of these anticipated difficult issues, such as detentions, civilian casualties and corruption, and that there was a premium on the need to resolve these disputes "in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork."

Unfortunately, he has continued to remain less committed to that spirit of collaboration and partnership. As a result, the international effort in support of the Afghan people may be weakening.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Karzai
January 12th, 2013
02:20 PM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Karzai doubts all U.S. troops will leave post-2014

By Samuel Burke, CNN

In the only interview that President Hamid Karzai granted while he was in the United Sates, he expressed confidence to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Afghan people will accept the United States’ demand for immunity for American troops left in place there after the 2014 withdrawal.

Karzai rejected the notion that has been floated that the U.S. might leave “zero troops” in Afghanistan after the pullout is completed at the end of 2014.

He told Amanpour that Afghans need some type of U.S. presence for “broader security and stability” after the withdrawal. For that reason, Karzai believes Afghans will have to grant the U.S. troops left there immunity.

“The United States will need to have a limited number of forces in Afghanistan,” he said, but was unwilling to give an exact number. “That’s not for us to decide. It is for the United States to decide what number of troops they will be keeping in Afghanistan and what strength of equipment those troops will have.”

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Amanpour • CNN Programs • Karzai
January 10th, 2013
06:03 PM ET

Karzai comes with wish list

By Mike Mount

Afghan President Hamid Karzai showed up to the Pentagon on Thursday with a wish list of military equipment to ensure the security of his country by the time NATO forces leave at the end of 2014.

In return, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a message to deliver – the United States wants to make sure Afghanistan does not become a terrorist safe haven again.

Karzai's meeting with Panetta, occurring under a cloud of mistrust between both countries, was expected to have some tough talk about the future of Afghanistan. But publicly, the image seemed like there was no trouble at all.

It was the first stop for the Afghan president who was to have dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday and meet with President Barack Obama on Friday.
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