11/21/2013, 00.00
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Loya Jirga to decide whether 15,000 US troops stay after 2014

The grand assembly of elders will meet until November 24. Its members will discuss the security agreement with the US, which Washington wants to use in its fight terrorism. The assembly is also expected to discuss whether US troops will be subject to US or Afghan law.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, of more than 2,000 Afghan elders met today to decide the fate of the US-Afghan security, which would allow up to 15,000 foreign troops to remain in Afghanistan after NATO forces, who currently number 75,000, pull out in 2014. Discussions are expected to last until this Sunday, with the final say up to the Afghan parliament.

The main issue is whether US troops would be subject to US or local courts. Washington has said that all its troops would be withdrawn if no legal immunity is agreed.

Another issue is whether US troops would be able to search Afghan homes. Aimal Faizi, Karzai's spokesman, said that Kabul had agreed that US forces could search homes, but only in "extraordinary circumstances" where there was an urgent risk to life.

For months, the United States has been trying to get the Karzai government to decide on the total or partial withdrawal of US troops, an issue of vital importance to Washington, still bent on boosting its fight against Islamic terrorism.

Yesterday Kerry said the remaining forces would have "a very limited role" to "train, equip, and assist" with "no combat role for the United States forces".

The agreement for the withdrawal of the military was supposed to be signed by October and come into effect by the end of 2013.

Karzai summoned the Loya Jirga to get its support for the security agreement with the United States, but insisted that his successor, not him, would sign the deal after presidential elections are held in April 2014.

At the same time, the Afghan president added, "My trust with America is not good. I don't trust them and they don't trust me."

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