Afghanistan hints at conditional immunity for US troops after 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday suggested he might be ready to grant American troops conditional immunity after 2014, a key U.S. demand that proved a deal breaker in Iraq.

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Karzai said U.S. troops could remain immune from local prosecution after Afghan forces take over their country's security if they respect the “sovereignty, laws and lives of Afghan people” and help equip Afghan forces, the Agence France-Presse reports. President Obama is considering leaving a 10,000-troop force in the country after the end of the NATO mission.

“Once those conditions are fulfilled by the U.S. with us,” Karzai told reporters in Kabul, “Afghanistan is willing to consider immunity for them and I, as the president of Afghanistan, am willing to go to the Afghan people and put that case forward and try to argue for it.

“But before I do that, I must make sure that the U.S. respects Afghan sovereignty – that it doesn't keep prisoners in Afghanistan in violation of agreement with us, that it doesn't violate Afghans' homes.”

The United States has made immunity for its troops a pre-condition of any military assistance. When Iraq refused to grant that condition, the Obama administration withdrew all its troops in December, 2011.

The United States currently has about 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, the largest contingent of the 100,000-troop-strong NATO force.