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Karzai Confirms Modest Cash Support From US

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KABUL – The United States of America had provided modest sums in cash support to Afghanistan’s National Security Council, President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday. Currently on a visit to Finland, Karzai told reporters in Helsinki: “Yes, the NSC has received financial assistance from the US over the past decade, but a reasonable scale, not at a massive one.”

He said the assistance was utilised for different purposes, including the treatment of sick officials, house rent and other operational objectives. The president thanked the US for the aid that had been useful for his administration. Earlier in the day, a US daily reported the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) delivered tens of millions of dollars to the office of President Hamid Karzai over the past decade, in a costly influence-peddling attempt.

“For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president,” the New York Times report said. Off-the-books cash receipts from the CIA were acknowledged by sitting and former advisors to Karzai, whose ex-chief of staff Khalil Roman told the paper: “We called it ghost money…It came in secret and it left in secret.”

Meant to buy influence for the CIA, the payments instead fuelled corruption and gave warlords a boost, the NYT quoted unnamed US officials as saying. As a result, the US drawdown strategy was weakened, the newspaper claimed. (PAN)

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