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security and political handover from Nato forces to the Afghans now underway, with all US combat troops scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of 2014.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
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas
film
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
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: Digital Content Manager

£26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee