Kabul  - Afghanistan named a three star general to take over Bagram prison from the US military and with him, final say over which prisoners are released, an issue with the potential to open another rift in relations between Washington and Kabul. The issue of the release of any of the 3,200 people held in the prison at the sprawling American base, north of Kabul, is sensitive to both countries.

Washington fears the prisoners, most of whom it says are mid to high level members of the Taliban, might return to the battlefield as has happened in the past, citing the case of a Taliban commander transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Afghan custody in 2007 who ended up fighting coalition forces again.

“They (the United States) can have a consultative role, but not a veto,” said Aimal Faizi, chief spokesman of President Hamid Karzai.

“What’s the point of the transfer if we don’t have full control,” he said, in remarks that have become increasingly assertive following a string of incidents that have strained US-Afghan ties, notably the killing of 17 villagers blamed on a US soldier and the burning of Korans at the Bagram base.