Karzai says U.S. has bowed to his 'hot button' demands on Afghanistan governance

Kabul, May 4 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai, explaining his signing of a strategic pact with the United States, said Washington has bowed to many of his demands.

Karzai said the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed Tuesday evening in Kabul, met several of Afghanistan's tough conditions, and highlighted that it forbids the U.S. from attacking other countries from the bases it may retain there after the bulk of foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

Karzai expressed gratitude for the decade of U.S. and international assistance to Afghanistan. He also said he hoped the U.S. Congress would back the agreement.

Karzai said the U.S. yielded ground in negotiations on hot-button issues such as the detention Afghan citizens and night raids by U.S. special operations forces.

"Our fundamental conditions were that the U.S. forces must not have the permission to run prisons...they must not be allowed to arrest Afghans, they must not be allowed to enter Afghan homes," the Wall Street Journal quoted Karzai, as saying. "These were our preconditions in order to enter into this strategic agreement," he added.

Karzai also highlighted the Afghan government's desire to eventually disband military-led provincial reconstruction teams; organisations that Afghan officials say have undermined the effectiveness of local and provincial governments.

He said the pact cemented Afghanistan's stature as a fully sovereign state that could negotiate on equal terms with the U.S.

"Afghanistan is now a dignified country," he said. "I call on you to come to Afghanistan, join the peace process and strengthen the nation of Afghanistan," he added. (ANI)