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Deal To Hand Over Prison To Afghans Is Key To Transition, U.S. General Says

Afghan and American officials today signed an agreement that will hand over control of the main U.S. detention center in that country to the Afghan government.

And the American commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan called the agreement "another example of the progress of transition, and our efforts to ensure that Afghanistan can never again be a safe haven for terrorists."

It is also, Gen. John Allen said, "an important step forward" in the negotiations about what happens after NATO turns over responsibility for security in the nation to Afghans at the end of 2014.

The Parwan prison facility outside Kabul holds about 3,000 detainees. It is, as the Los Angeles Times notes, "the source of the Islamic texts that were burned — accidentally, U.S. officials said — in a trash incinerator at the adjoining Bagram air base, setting off more than a week of deadly riots" and the killing of six Americans.

From Kabul, NPR's Quil Lawrence tells our Newscast Desk that "the prison will be gradually transferred over six months." He also says the deal "may speed up talks on a strategic partnership agreement that will determine how many American troops stay in Afghanistan after 2014."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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