The Afghan government has agreed on a transition plan to take over responsibility for the US-run prison at Bagram air base, where there have been allegations of human rights abuses. US and Afghan officials said the handover could occur by the end of the year.
Treatment of inmates at the facility has been under scrutiny since the 2002 deaths at Bagram of two Afghan detainees, which led to prisoner abuse charges against several American troops. Concerns about lengthy detentions also have drawn comparisons with US detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq.
President Hamid Karzai has said he wants operations at Bagram to be re-evaluated and has called for the release of inmates being held without evidence. He said arrests are turning ordinary Afghans against US and NATO forces.
The US military welcomed the memorandum of understanding signed by senior Afghan officials on Saturday, saying the facility could be handed over to Afghan control by the end of the year. Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak and other senior Afghan officials signed the agreement. The top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal attended the ceremony but did not sign the deal.