Jan. 2 - U.S. Senators visit the Afghan president to try to push for talks aimed at signing a crucial security deal and halt the release of prisoners the U.S. considers a threat. Gavino Garay reports.
U.S. Senators met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday. Afterwards, Repubican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham expressed concerns over the planned release of hundreds of inmates from Bagram prison. The U.S. handed over control of the prison to Afghan forces in March. It views the freeing of 88 of those prisoners a threat to security -- and a strain on relations between the two countries. Senator Lindsey Graham: (SOUNDBITE) (English) LINDSEY GRAHAM, REPUBLICAN SENATOR SAYING: "These 88 prisoners, there is much evidence suggest wrongdoing. Over 60 coalition forces have been killed as a result of the actions by these 88, and 57 Afghans have been killed by the actions of these 88. To allow them to be released would be an affront to the Afghan people and to the soldiers and those who have bravely risked their lives to capture them." The Senators also discussed with Karzai a long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement -- or BSA. Senator McCain was optimistic a deal would soon be reached. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN SAYING: "I am convinced that as a result of our long meeting with president Karzai we have narrowed those differences and I believe that we can look forward to the signing of the BSA and implementation of that sooner rather than later." But Karzai has suggested any deal can wait until after presidential elections in April.