The legal status of US troops was a key sticking point in drawn-out negotiations over the bilateral security agreement (BSA) that will govern Washington’s military presence after the bulk of NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan next year.
The BSA will be discussed by a grand assembly of tribal leaders starting on Thursday and it must then be approved by the Afghan parliament before it can come into effect.
The draft text published on the Afghan foreign ministry website said Kabul had agreed that the United States should have “the exclusive right to exercise jurisdiction” over its forces in Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan authorises the United States to hold trial in such cases, or take other disciplinary action, as appropriate, in the territory of Afghanistan,” the text said.
Disagreement on the same issue sank a similar security pact between the US and Iraq in 2011, leading Washington to pull out all its forces, and there have been fears of a similar “zero option” in Afghanistan.
According to the draft, the deal will remain in force “until the end of 2024 and beyond” unless either side terminates it.
Afghan officials could not be reached for comment on the publication while a spokeswoman for the US State Department stressed that the text was a draft and final details were still under discussion and could change.