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US, Afghanistan close to signing landmark deal on night raids

February 21, 2011: A Chinook helicopter lands to pick up U.S. soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division following a night raid in Yahya Khel, Paktika province.Reuters

The U.S. and Afghanistan are close to signing a landmark agreement that would give Afghans effective control over nighttime raids and clear the way for the two countries to sign a strategic-partnership agreement next month in Chicago, according to officials from both countries.

Under terms of the proposed accord, night operations by special forces would be subject to review by Afghan judges. The deal, which people familiar with it said could be signed later this week, would also give Afghan forces the lead in all the operations. Currently, a majority of night raids are led by Afghans, U.S. officials said.

"We believe we're making progress in heading toward an agreement on this," Pentagon press secretary George Little told a news conference Tuesday. He declined to offer specifics, citing the sensitivity of the continuing negotiations.

The proposed deal would settle an issue that has long dogged U.S. relations with Afghanistan and its president, Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly called for an end to night raids.

To read more on this story, see the Wall Street Journal article here. 

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