US Agrees to Hand Prisoners Over to Afghans

But it will retain veto power on those released
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2012 8:50 AM CST
In this March 23, 2011 photograph, Afghan detainees are through mesh wire fence inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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(Newser) – The US has agreed to hand over all of its Afghan detainees to the country's government, on the condition that it will retain the right to veto any releases, officials announced today. Officially, the agreement is effective immediately, but it allows for a six-month transition to full Afghan control, and in reality the US is likely to maintain day-to-day control over the prisoners for a while, the New York Times reports.

The prisoner swap had become a thorny issue in US-Afghan relations, with Hamid Karzai demanding the hand-off and setting today as the deadline, the LA Times explains. The US had always planned on handing over detainees eventually, but the agreement speeds up the timetable, with 500 to be transferred in the next 45 days. The US has more than 3,200 detainees in Afghanistan. It will hold onto the roughly 50 of them who aren't Afghans; most are al-Qaeda militants from Pakistan.

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