US army hands over Bagram air base to Afghan control

 

The United States today handed over the once notorious prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan to full Afghan control in a symbolic recognition of national sovereignty long demanded by Hamid Karzai, the country’s president.

The move came hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul for a previously unannounced visit, clearly designed to smooth over the latest tensions with the prickly Mr Karzai. The Afghanistan President had enraged Washington earlier this month by suggesting that the US was colluding with the Taliban to prolong the conflict and thus gain a pretext for maintaining its military presence in the country.

After talks with the Afghan leader, Mr Kerry told reporters the two were “on the same page” over the issue, and that Mr Karzai accepted that the only US interest was for the Taliban to enter peace negotiations.

“I don’t think there’s any disagreement between us,” he said. As for the transfer of the prison – now rebuilt at a new site next to the air base and renamed the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan – Mr Karzai said it was “a very good day” for Afghanistan.

Last March the US agreed to hand over responsibility for the majority of the detainees, and actually held a transfer ceremony six months later. But the complete transfer was delayed by a dispute over the possible release of inmates whom the US considered a security threat.

According to Afghan officials, the US had already handed over 4,000 prisoners, of whom 1,350 have been released. Today a further 26 were transferred, and others are expected to follow soon. Under the final deal, some 50 prisoners will remain in American hands, while fighters captured in the future by US forces must be turned over to the Afghan authorities within 96 hours.

The transfer is part of the broader security and political handover from Nato forces to the Afghans now underway, with all US combat troops scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of 2014. “This ceremony highlights an increasingly confident, capable and sovereign Afghanistan,” Marine General Joseph, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said.

Bagram was the largest American detention facility in Afghanistan and over the years was at the centre of repeated controversies over alleged prisoner abuse. It also saw one of the low points in relations between Washington and Kabul when US troops burnt copies of the Koran last year, sparking days of rioting.

Some United Nations officials have warned that the Afghan government might itself abuse prisoners after it took over the facility.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'