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Afghan gov't takes over full control of main prison from U.S. forces

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21:08, March 25, 2013

KABUL, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The Afghan Defense Ministry took the full control of a key U.S.-run detention center often called the Bagram prison on Monday, a fresh development of the security transition plan that lasts till 2014 when Afghanistan is due to take over the full security duties from U.S. and NATO forces.

An official ceremony was held in an Afghan army compound near the prison, located next to the Bagram airbase, the main U.S. military bastion 50 km north of Afghan capital Kabul.

The ceremony was attended by several high-ranking Afghan and NATO officials including Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Bismullah Mohammadi and the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country Gen. Joseph Dunford.

"Afghanistan marks another milestone in the process of transition of security from its international partners to its national security forces," Mohammadi told reporters after inking a memorandum of understanding with Dunford.

The handing over of the facility was scheduled to take place during the U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's first tour to Afghanistan earlier this month but the program was canceled for unknown reasons.

"The transfer of the detention facility is an important part of the overall transition of security lead to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). This ceremony highlights an increasingly confident, capable, and sovereign Afghanistan," said Dunford in a statement issued by U.S. military here shortly after the ceremony.

"In their January meeting in Washington, DC, President Obama and President Karzai agreed to transfer the detainees held at Parwan to Afghan custody and control. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed at today's ceremony by the Afghan Minister of Defense and General Dunford affirms their mutual commitment to the lawful and humane treatment of detainees and their intention to protect the people of Afghanistan and coalition forces," the statement added.

"The American and Afghan people have a shared vision -- a secure, stable and sovereign Afghanistan that is a respected member of the international community," Dunford said.

The frequent delay in handing over the Bagram prison where nearly 3,000 suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operatives are held was a source of tension between Afghanistan and the United States, recently.

The transfer of the prison is seen as a critical part of handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan government before withdrawal of the NATO-led troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Meantime, the Afghan commander of the facility, Gen. Ghulam Farooq Barekzai told reporters after the ceremony that Afghan authorities had control of more than 4,000 inmates in the prison.

"Around 100 prisoners are still under the control of U.S. military and U.S. forces will hand them over to Afghan defense ministry within one week," Barekzai said.

More than 1,000 Afghan army and military police personnel will provide security for the Bagram prison after taking over the control of the detention center, Safiullah Safi a military police commander in Bagram said.

The U.S. military's statement also mentions that the U.S. has pledged an additional 39 million U.S. dollars to support afghan security forces.

Under the U.S. President Barack Obama's withdrawal plan 33,000 U.S. troops already pulled out of Afghanistan in September last year and another 34,000 will return home within one year.

Transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces to Afghan army and police began in mid-2011 and lasts till 2014 when Afghanistan is due to take over its full security duties from U.S. and NATO forces.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:YanMeng、Wang Jinxue)

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