• Afghan assembly to discuss key security deal with

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    Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga or “general assembly,” attend the first day of the assembly in Kabul on Thursday. AFP PHOTO

    Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga or “general assembly,” attend the first day of the assembly in Kabul on Thursday. AFP PHOTO

    KABUL: About 2,500 Afghan tribal chieftains, community elders and politicians began a grand assembly on Thursday to debate a crucial security deal with the United States (US).

    President Hamid Karzai and most of his cabinet arrived at a giant Kabul tent to mark the official start of the “loya jirga,” or grand assembly, which will debate the bilateral security agreement over the next four days.

    Karzai, speaking to the delegates, said the meeting was committed “only to seriously discussing the security agreement” with the United States.

    A copy of the Bilateral Security Agreement document agreed upon between Kabul and Washington will be provided to the delegates in local languages, one of the organizers said.

    Hours before the start of the meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington the two sides had agreed the text of the pact in a slew of phone conversations with Karzai.

    A draft text released by Kabul appeared to show Karzai had given in to a US demand that its forces should be subject to American rather than Afghan justice if accused of a crime.

    The issue was a major hurdle during the year-long negotiations over the pact.

    AFP

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