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Hagel, Karzai Agree to ‘Intensive Work’ on Prisoner Transfer

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have agreed to use the next week to conduct “intensive work” to resolve issues related to Afghanistan’s sovereignty and security.

Hagel and Karzai spoke today by telephone about “issues of shared concern, including detentions,” according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

Today’s telephone call and agreement to work together follow Hagel’s first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary last weekend. During the visit, a planned transfer of prisoners being held by the U.S. at Bagram air base outside Kabul to Afghan control was delayed because the two sides couldn’t agree on the terms of the handover. Karzai had said he would release some of the prisoners after the transfer.

There were also suicide attacks in Kabul and Khost province during Hagel’s visit, and Karzai said in a speech on March 10 that the U.S. is colluding with the radical Islamic Taliban and the bombs were in the “service of America.”

The trip gave Hagel, who took office March 1, a close-up view of the military and political obstacles the Obama administration faces as it tries to extricate the U.S. from a war it’s been waging for more than 11 years at a cost of 2,170 American lives so far.

At the same time, the U.S. must help train Afghan forces to take over the fight, root out official corruption, curb opium trafficking, and develop the country’s economy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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