The United States on Friday signed a deal transferring control of the Bagram prison to the Afghan government, marking a breakthrough in negotiations on a strategic treaty between the two nations.
The accord, which will see authority over the prison transferred gradually over six months, was inked by Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and the US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen at a signing ceremony.
The handover of the prison -- sometimes called Afghanistan's Guantanamo Bay -- has been a key sticking point in talks between Washington and the Afghan government on concluding a long-term strategic partnership treaty.
Karzai has repeatedly demanded in the name of Afghan sovereignty that the prison be transferred before he signs any deal governing Afghan-US relations after NATO combat troops pull out in 2014.
"This is an important step in the strategic partnership negotiations," Allen said at the signing ceremony.
Wardak said the transfer process would take place over six months.
"With the hand over of the Bagram prison, one of the conditions of the Loya Jirga (grand assembly of Afghan elders) will be implemented. We are feeling very proud about this important step," Wardak said.
Human rights campaigners have regularly criticised the prison, saying it fails to comply with international norms as some inmates are detained arbitrarily without trial or knowledge of the charges against them.
The prison at Bagram, a military base north of Kabul, holds rebel fighters detained by US-led NATO forces in their 10-year war against the Taliban-led insurgency trying to topple Karzai's government.
Source: US signs deal to hand Bagram prison to Afghans - Yahoo! News UK