Kabul: President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday outlined his conditions for long-term US military bases in Afghanistan at a key four-day gathering of elders, saying that Kabul wants national sovereignty "today".

"We want our national sovereignty and we want it today," he told the gathering preparing to debate Afghanistan's long-term ties with the US when the bulk of foreign combat troops leave in 2014.

"We want our relationship with America to be one of two independent countries," he told the loya jirga, a traditional gathering of influential Afghans in a consultation process whose outcome will be non-binding.

Karzai said the US must stop night raids and building parallel institutions in Afghanistan as a condition of a strategic partnership agreement between the two nations.

But if it meets conditions such as these, Karzai said Afghanistan was prepared to host US troops in the long-term.
"If they want military bases, we will allow them, it is in our benefit, money will come to us, and our forces will be trained," he said.

He also moved to reassure Afghanistan's neighbours about the nature of any strategic partnership deal.

"We reassure all the friendly countries that no country and no neighbouring country will be interfered with from Afghanistan," Karzai said.

"Afghanistan sees its national interest in having good relations with neighbours and want our independence to have good relations with neighbours such as China, Russia and others."

He added: "America may be powerful, America may be richer, America may have more land but we are lions."

(Agencies)