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Kerry, Karzai conclude talks on US-Afghan partnership

Afghan President Karzai has concluded talks with US Secretary of State Kerry to negotiate the American military presence in the country after 2014. Still remaining is the question of immunity for US troops.

Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry met Friday (pictured above) for their first round of talks. They appeared to have reached an agreement on the first of the two sticking points: a US request to run independent counterterrorism missions on Afghan territory.

The second sticking point was to reach terms for a US military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. US President Barack Obama had told Karzai last June that if there was no agreement by October 31 on the terms for keeping a residual military presence in Afghanistan, the US could pull out all of its forces by the end of 2014 in an outcome known as the "zero option." The Afghan president has signaled a preference to wait for next spring's elections to decide.

"We will try to see if we can make a little more progress, which we have been doing," Kerry told reporters and US Embassy staff ahead of a third meeting on Saturday.

Another contentious point between the two governments is reportedly Washington's refusal to guarantee the country protection from intervention by foreign forces, primarily from Pakistan.

mkg/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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