October 26, 2010

Karzai says his office gets cash from US and Iran

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he receives millions of dollars in cash from Iran, adding that Washington gives him "bags of money" too because his office lacks funds. U.S. officials said the money flowing from Tehran was further proof that Iran is playing a double game in Afghanistan — wooing the government while helping Taliban insurgents who are fighting U.S. and NATO forces.

The United States has itself used cash as a weapon in the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq — from local development projects to win public support, to salaries for Iraqi insurgents who switched sides, to cash payoffs to influential community leaders willing to back the U.S. and its allies. Karzai said that once or twice a year, Iran gives his office $700,000 to $975,000 for official presidential expenses.

"This is transparent. This is something that I've even discussed while I was at Camp David with President Bush," Karzai told a news conference, referring to meetings with then-President George W. Bush at the U.S. presidential retreat outside Washington.

"It is not hidden," he said. "We are grateful for the Iranians' help in this regard. The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices."

Asked whether the U.S. actually gives bags full of cash to the presidential office, Karzai responded: "Yes, it does give bags of money."

David Sherzer, a spokesman for Bush, declined to comment on Karzai's comments. But U.S. officials in Washington said both countries have given Afghanistan assistance in cash payments — a widespread practice in a country where few people have bank accounts or credit cards. SOURCE: Yahoo

No comments: