Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday said that Afghan tribal elders must lay out the rules for immunity from prosecution for US soldiers who continue to be stationed in the country after their combat mission ends in 2014.

“The decision about their soldier’s immunity, how it would be, on what law, in which conditions, or is their a need for immunity (at all) is a decision which the Afghan government cannot make,” Mr. Karzai said after returning from a three-day visit to the United States.

“This is a decision of the people of Afghanistan. So it must be decided by a Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) of the people to see if they want to grant immunity or not and on what conditions,” Mr. Karzai said.

In 2011, Mr. Karzai called a similar meeting of around 1,600 tribal elders across Afghanistan to decide on a strategic partnership with the United States. The delegates approved. Last year Mr. Karzai signed a long-term partnership deal with the US, which is separate from the bilateral security pact in negotiations right now.

“Americans told us that, if you don’t give immunity for our soldiers, we are obligated to leave Afghanistan and keep no relation with you,” Mr. Karzai told journalists in his fortified Kabul palace.

“So, we have to carefully measure balance between the two scales and, if we want their presence after 2014, they want us to give immunity for their soldiers,” he added.

In the press meeting, Mr. Karzai also said that the US government agreed to finance and keep the current size of Afghan national security forces — which numbers around 352,000 personnel — up until at least 2017.

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