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security and political handover from Nato forces to the Afghans now underway, with all US combat troops scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of 2014.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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high