March 22 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he is working on putting a halt to NATO night raids as part of a strategic partnership with the United States. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that his government is pressing for an end to NATO night raids in ongoing negotiations with the United States over a long-term strategic partnership deal. U.S. and Afghan officials have been trying to negotiate an accord for a long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond a 2014 deadline for most NATO combat forces to withdraw, allowing advisers and possibly some special forces to stay on. Earlier the two countries er signed a deal on the transfer of a major U.S.-run prison to Afghan authority. There is still the issue of night time military raids, seen by some as the final sticking point for reaching a deal. SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN PRESIDENT, HAMID KARZAI, SAYING "Afghan law should be implemented. Right now, we are working to ban and stop night raids on Afghans homes. The security of Afghanistan must be provided by the sons of Afghanistan, according Afghanistan constitution." U.S.-Afghan relations have been badly strained this year by a March 11 incident in which a U.S. soldier is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children. This followed the burning of copies of the Koran at NATO's main base in the country, which sparked a week of rioting that left dozens dead. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters