TEHRAN, Oct. 14 (MNA) – The U.S. secretary of state left Afghanistan after failing to reach a full agreement over the withdrawal of U.S. troops next year, media reported on Sunday.

 John Kerry said on Saturday in Kabul that despite agreeing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a set of core elements in a deal that would allow troops to remain on in Afghanistan, both sides were unable to iron out the crucial issue of immunity for U.S. troops stationed in the country.
 
"We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement," Kerry said.
 
Karzai said the talks had focused on protecting Afghan sovereignty and that major differences had been resolved, including a U.S. request to run independent counterterrorism missions in the country.
 
Karzai said the U.S. proposal will be now put forward to the country's Loya Jirga, an assembly of elders, leaders and other influential people, to decide.
 
 
According to AP, U.S. officials said a potentially deal-breaking issue of jurisdiction over those forces must still be worked out with some political and tribal leaders in Afghanistan.
 
 
The jurisdiction issue came to the fore after an American soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, killed 16 people in two villages in southern Afghanistan last year. He was convicted in August by a military court and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of release.
 
Discussions had repeatedly stalled in recent weeks over Karzai's demand for American guarantees against future foreign intervention from countries like Pakistan, and U.S. demands for any post-2014 residual force to be able to conduct counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
 
The situation deteriorated in the past week following a series of angry comments from Karzai that the United States and NATO were repeatedly violating Afghanistan's sovereignty and inflicting suffering on its people.
 
 
The failure to reach a deal could prompt the U.S. to pull all its troops out after 2014, in an outcome known as the "zero option".
 
The collapse of similar talks between the U.S. and Iraq in 2011 - partly over the issue of immunity - led to the US completely ending its forces' mission there rather than maintaining a significant presence.
 
There currently are an estimated 87,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including about 52,000 Americans. That number will be halved by February and all foreign combat troops will be gone by the end of next year.
The U.S. wants to keep as many as 10,000 troops in the country to go after the remnants of al-Qaida, but if no agreement is signed, all U.S. troops would have to leave by Dec. 31, 2014. President Barack Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press he would be comfortable with a full pullout of U.S. troops.

MNA

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