President Hamid Karzai has agreed for the US to have one week more to complete the handover of Bagram prison after US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel telephoned to request the extra time, according to Karzai’s office.
“President Karzai agrees with US Secretary of Defence request of one week time for the complete handover of Bagram prison,” Karzai’s office said in a statement late Saturday.
“In a telephone conversation with President Karzai, US Defence Secretary asked for a week time for a complete transfer of the Bagram Prison to Afghanistan sovereignty,” it said.
Pentagon press secretary George Little tweeted late Saturday that Hagel spoke to President Karzai “and they agreed both sides should work intensively to conclude agreement on detentions”.
Karzai reminded Hagel that the transfer has been delayed several times in the past and that this time the handover must take place, the statement added.
Karzai has announced three deadlines in less than a fortnight for the Bagram prison handover from the US.
His third such announcement was in a speech last week in southern Helmand province when he said that the handover will happen this Saturday or Sunday.
“I am sure you are all aware of the arguments about the Bagram prison handover. I urge you all to stand with me and say that Karzai is right, and we want to take responsibility of the prison and those who are innocent should be released. God willing, this demand will be implemented practically, by Saturday or Sunday next week,” he said.
The handover was originally due to take place on Saturday March 9 with a signing ceremony when Hagel was visiting Afghanistan, but it was delayed after disagreements over a few points in the new memorandum.
More than 3,000 suspected Taliban insurgents are being detained at Bagram. Last September, the US handed control of most of the high-security prison over to the Afghans, but did not transfer 600 or so detainees captured after the initial memorandum was signed March 2012.