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US, Afghanistan close to signing landmark deal on controversial night raids


April 4, 2012 - Washington

The United States and Afghanistan are close to completing an agreement that would give Kabul effective control over night time raids, officials of both countries have said.

Under terms of the proposed accord, night operations by Special Forces would be subject to review by Afghan judges.

According to people familiar with the deal, the landmark agreement would also give Afghan forces the lead in all the operations.

"We believe we're making progress in heading toward an agreement on this," The Wall Street Journal quoted Pentagon press secretary George Little, as saying.

The proposed deal would settle an issue that has long dogged US relations with Afghanistan and its President, Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly called for an end to controversial night raids.

"There will be some kind of support role by the United States, but we will be in charge of all dimensions of the operations," the paper quoted Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Karzai's deputy national-security adviser and a member of the Afghan negotiating team, as saying.

According to the paper, officials had expected the deal could be signed as soon as Wednesday, but a last-minute disagreement arose over how long US forces would be allowed to hold Afghan detainees picked up in joint Afghan-American special-operations night raids.

While the US wants to be able to question detainees to try to glean intelligence about militant networks and activities, the Afghans want control of the detainees.

Despite the discord, both sides said they remained optimistic that a deal will be reached soon, the paper said.

ANI

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