Afghans, US sign deal on prison transfer

Afghans, US sign deal on prison transfer

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Associated Press
Afghan and U.S. military officials have signed a deal to transfer oversight of the main U.S. detention center in the country to the Afghan government within six months.

Friday’s agreement is a key step toward a long-term pact to govern the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak and U.S. Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan signed the memorandum. It sets a deadline for the transfer of some 3,000 Afghan detainees at the Parwan facility. The U.S. will still have access to the facility and will be able to block the release of detainees it thinks should continue to be held.

The issue along with night raids by international forces in Afghan villages has threatened to derail talks on formalizing a role for U.S. forces after NATO’s scheduled transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.

President Hamid Karzai had previously set Friday as the deadline for the handover. 

The deal comes as relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan have become more tense in recent weeks following the burning of Qurans and other religious materials at Bagram military base near the capital Kabul, sparking riots and attacks that killed some 30 people.