Kerry and Karzai strike upbeat note
Kerry visited Afghanistan as the United States ceded to a key long-standing demand of Karzai by delivering full control of Bagram prison, where Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects are held north of Kabul, to Afghan forces.
Karzai had turned the fate of Bagram and its hundreds of detainees into a rallying cry for his push to take back sovereignty as the bulk of US-led combat troops prepare to leave by the end of 2014 after more than a decade of war.
The militant threat facing Afghanistan was on Tuesday again underlined when seven suicide bombers targeted a police base in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
All the attackers and five officers died in the assault, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.
After a series of fiery anti-US outbursts from Karzai in recent weeks, both he and Kerry were keen to make a public display of friendship and stress that relations were back on track.
"Bagram prison was handed over to the Afghan government ... Finally after many years of effort we have reached a deal," Karzai told reporters at a joint press conference late Monday.
Kerry said: "The US is committed to an enduring partnership ... The US supports a strong and united Afghanistan.
"We are committed to Afghanistan's sovereignty and we will not let al-Qaeda or the Taliban shake this commitment."
Earlier this month, Karzai accused Washington of working in concert with the Taliban and his spokesman described the NATO coalition's war effort as "aimless and unwise", triggering fury from Afghanistan's foreign backers.source
Eight Taliban suicide bombers have reportedly struck in Jalalabad, Afghanistan's biggest city, in a three-hour attack that coincided with a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The pre-dawn attack on a police compound killed at least officers, Voice of America reported, with one of the attackers setting off a car bomb.
Reuters quoted provincial police chief Amin Sharif as saying:
The car bomb was detonated at the entrance of the Afghan National Police compound to allow the other attackers to storm inside.
The attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and light machineguns, Amin said, forcing Afghan security forces into a gun battle.
The London Telegraph cited Taliban militants as claiming responsibility for the attack but claiming that it had targeted "foreigners and Israeli teachers" training Afghan police.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kerry has flown to Afghanistan despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai infuriating Washington earlier this month by accusing the US of colluding with the Taliban.
Kerry has already met with Karzai twice since arriving in Afghanistan on Monday and is also expected to meet with Afghan leaders to discuss the US disengagement from the country over the coming months.
Most foreign troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.