Nov.16 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai opens the loya jirga, or grand assembly, by telling the U.S. they must end night raids before Kabul will sign a partnership deal. Simon Hanna reports.
Tight security in Kabul as around 2,000 tribal elders and political leaders prepare to meet. Wednesday marks the beginning of the loya jirga - a four day grand assembly that will deliberate on the country's most pressing issues. Paramount among these is governing American involvement in Afghanistan as troops prepare to leave by the end of 2014. President Hamid Karzai told the assembly that the U.S. and NATO must agree to stop carrying out night raids on Afghan homes as a pre condition to Kabul signing a strategic partnership with Washington. Night raids, where security forces target insurgents who hide among the Afghan population, cause great resentment among ordinary residents. Karzai though also emphasised that maintaining a cooperative relationship with the U.S. was in Afghanistan's interests. The strategic partnership agreement is still under discussion between Kabul and Washington, and Afghanistan is negotiating similar agreements with Britain, France, Australia and the European Union. Simon Hanna, Reuters.