Kerry, Afghans Reach Deal On Troop Withdrawal

In marathon talks in Kabul, Secretary of State John Kerry persuaded the reluctant Afghan president to agree to a deal on the planned withdrawal of American troops next year. While some questions about the agreement remain unresolved, it marks a diplomatic victory for Kerry. Now it is up to Karzai to sell it to his people.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The U.S. and Afghanistan are a big step closer to signing an agreement that will allow thousands of American troops to stay in Afghanistan after the NATO mission officially ends next year. After a marathon session of talks yesterday, President Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry announced they had come to terms on a bilateral security agreement. But as NPR's Sean Carberry reports, there are still several hurdles to clear before the deal is finalized.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Last week, the prospects for a deal seemed dim. The countries couldn't agree on the terms of guaranteeing Afghanistan's security and sovereignty. After two days of grueling talks between Kerry and Karzai, that changed. Kerry, however, said the deal is by no means done.

SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: We have put ourselves in a position for an enduring partnership going forward in the years ahead providing that the political process of Afghanistan accepts that.

CARBERRY: President Karzai now has to present the draft agreement to parliament and a people's assembly, or Loya Jirga, for approval. And separate from the draft agreement is resolving whether or not U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be subject to Afghan or U.S. law.

KERRY: If the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement.

CARBERRY: Karzai and Kerry said an Afghan Loya Jirga and parliament will have to make that determination. MP Fowzia Kofi says that parliamentary approval could be tricky.

FOWZIA KOFI: There are MPs who are from the specific provinces; their voters have been victims of civilian casualties, etc.

CARBERRY: So, they might demand Afghan jurisdiction. But she's betting that parliament will ultimately approve U.S. jurisdiction and the security agreement. Sean Carberry, NPR News, Kabul.

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