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Taliban reject Afghan-US deal

The Taliban today rejected as a "show" the endorsement by a traditional assembly of a strategic partnership deal with the United States that could allow its troops to remain in Afghanistan for years.

world Updated: Nov 20, 2011 18:59 IST

The Taliban on Sunday rejected as a "show" the endorsement by a traditional assembly of a strategic partnership deal with the United States that could allow its troops to remain in Afghanistan for years.

In a statement sent to media, the Islamist militant group said the assembly, or loya jirga, which ended Saturday was orchestrated by the Afghan government to achieve American aims.

"All the participants were active government workers. What they discussed at the jirga was what America wanted," said the Pashto-language statement quoting Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

"In the past 10 years they brutally searched Afghans' houses, they detained Afghans and put them in their prisons, they destroyed people's orchards... and this cruel army still wants to continue its barbarism for another 10 years."

After four days of talks, loya jirga delegates endorsed a strategic partnership deal which will govern the presence of US troops in Afghanistan after 2014, when all NATO-led foreign combat forces are due to leave.

But they insisted on a string of conditions including that US nationals committing crimes in Afghanistan must not be entitled to immunity, and that the US must side with Afghanistan if a third country tries to attack it.

President Hamid Karzai accepted the conditions and recommendations of the jirga, which brought together 2,000 delegates from around the country in Kabul for four days, saying they were "for the good of Afghanistan".

The meeting also backed holding talks with members of the Taliban who renounce violence, despite the assassination in September of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani which officials blame on insurgents.

Hundreds of people, mostly university students, took to the streets in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday to protest against the pact.

Angry demonstrators shouting "death to America" and "death to American puppets" blocked the Kabul-Jalalabad highway for two hours, burning a US flag and an effigy of US President Barack Obama.