DOD: Afghan postwar talks on schedule, despite recent violence

A key meeting of top Afghan leaders on the Obama administration's postwar strategy for the country is still on track, despite a recent terrorist attack in the country's capitol of Kabul. 

A suicide bomb ripped through a secure compound in downtown Kabul on Saturday, killing six and injuring dozens more, according to the Associated Press

The location of the attack is where members of the Loya Jirga, an assembly of the country's most powerful tribal leaders, are scheduled to meet later this week to review the U.S. postwar plan. 

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That meeting to review the American strategy, known as a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), remains on schedule despite the attack, a defense official told The Hill on Monday. 

"Discussions have been ongoing with the Afghans to finalize the text ahead of the Loya Jirga," according to the defense official. 

"We have long been clear that we believe that a BSA is in the interests of both countries and will continue to work toward that end," the official said. 

Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed to a preliminary BSA during talks in Kabul in October. 

The language agreed to will form the foundation for a possible American military presence in the country after all U.S. forces are scheduled to pull out next year. 

But recent violence in the Afghan capitol ahead of the Loya Jirga meeting underscores the deep divide between Washington and Kabul on how that potential postwar force will operate in the country after 2014. 

That final withdrawal, slated to wrap up by next April, will officially bring the Afghan war to an end. 

The Karzai government is still demanding members of a possible U.S. postwar force be subject to Afghan laws under a so-called status of forces agreement. 

That would allow American troops to be prosecuted in Afghan courts for alleged crimes committed during postwar operations. 

Washington, however, is adamantly opposed to opening up American military units to Afghan prosecution. 

President Obama has made clear the White House is willing to walk away from any postwar deal that includes Afghan jurisdiction over U.S. forces. 

Pentagon officials argue that any U.S. troops accused of alleged war crimes a part of post-2014 operations will be subject to prosecution by American military courts. 

Similar agreements have been reached with nearly all foreign nations in which American forces operate. 

But the lack of a status of forces deal was a crucial factor in the failed attempt to set up a postwar security deal in Iraq, and it set the stage for the recent wave of sectarian violence against Iraqi forces and civilians in the country. 

Afghan leaders are also insisting on restrictions preventing U.S. troops from entering Afghan homes, as part of postwar operations. 

Those kinds of raids are critical to U.S.-led counterterrorism missions, which are a main pillar of the American mission in the country after 2014. 

Despite such concerns, the defense official was adamant the White House and Pentagon remain committed to reaching a viable postwar strategy. 

"While there are some things we continue to work to resolve ... we respect the Afghan process and continue to work for a positive outcome that would be to the benefit of both countries and to the region as a whole," the official said.