U.S., Afghanistan Move Toward Security Deal

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Karzai Spokesman Says Obama Agrees to Write Letter Acknowledging War Mistakes.

The Afghan government said President Barack Obama has agreed to its request to acknowledge U.S. mistakes made during the war as a condition for Kabul allowing American troops to operate in the country after next year.

President Hamid Karzai requested that Mr. Obama write a letter in exchange for softening his opposition to letting American forces raid Afghan homes after the coalition’s mandate expires in December 2014, said his spokesman, Aimal Faizi. If made, this American gesture would be reciprocated by Kabul’s agreement to allow such raids in circumstances when American lives are at risk, he said.

The compromise decision, which appears to defuse the latest crisis in ties with Kabul, was made in Tuesday’s phone call between Mr. Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr. Faizi said. It came just ahead of Thursday’s inauguration of the Loya Jirga, a traditional assembly that would consider the so-called bilateral security agreement between the two countries.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul confirmed the phone call took place but declined to comment on its substance. Officials in Washington weren’t available for immediate comment on Tuesday.

The security agreement, which would provide for a limited training and counterterrorism force in Afghanistan after 2014, is crucial for continuing international aid, the main source of funding for the Afghan army and police that are facing a resilient Taliban insurgency.

Mr. Obama’s letter is supposed to “mention that there were mistakes made in the conduct of military operations by U.S. forces in the past decade, and that the Afghan people have suffered, and we understand their pain, and therefore can give assurances that these mistakes will not be repeated,” said Mr. Faizi. He added that Mr. Obama’s letter would be presented to the Loya Jirga together with the security agreement.

The U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, losing 2,922 American lives in the war so far. Mr. Karzai has repeatedly condemned the U.S. forces for inflicting civilian casualties.

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