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US agrees to 'gradual' transfer of prisoners to Afghan custody

[JURIST] A US embassy spokesman in Kabul said Thursday that the US will gradually return Afghan prisoners in US custody to Afghan custody once Afghanistan develops the capacity to detain them. The announcement comes after President Bush's meetings in May [JURIST report] with Afghan President Hamid Karzai [Wikipedia profile] prompted by Karzai's demand for custody of Afghan detainees [JURIST report] after US newspapers reported details of prisoner abuse [JURIST report]. Senior US diplomats visited Afghanistan this week and offered the country assistance to develop facilities to hold the detainees. The two countries released a joint statement [text] saying:

The government of Afghanistan will accept responsibility for the returning Afghan citizens and will work to ensure that they do not pose a continuing threat to Afghanistan, the coalition, or the international community as a whole.
Since 2001, the US has held 350 Afghan citizens in the Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan and 110 at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. BBC News has more.

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