- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 8, 2010

AFGHANISTAN

Report: Corruption seen as Taliban aid

The Afghan government’s failure to tackle rampant corruption is widely seen as providing impetus to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, according to a new report.

The survey by the anti-corruption charity Integrity Watch Afghanistan found that corruption has grown to epidemic proportions, with Afghans paying $1 billion in bribes in 2009. Half of the 6,500 Afghans surveyed said this fosters the growth of the Taliban.

Taliban uses corruption in the government as a strategic political approach to delegitimize the government and gain greater support among the population,” said Karolina Olofsson, head of advocacy and communications at Integrity Watch Afghanistan, in an e-mail interview from Kabul.

The survey found that corruption had doubled since 2006 and one in seven adults experienced direct bribery in 2009. Twenty-eight percent of Afghan households paid a bribe to obtain at least one public service.

UNITED NATIONS

Security Council meets on S. Korea ship sinking

The U.N. Security Council called a meeting late Thursday where diplomats say a draft statement on the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship was to be discussed.

South Korea sent a letter to the council on June 4 asking the U.N.’s most powerful body to respond to the March 26 sinking “in a manner appropriate to the gravity of North Korea’s military provocation.” A South Korean-led international investigation concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank the 1,200-ton Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

North Korea, which has vehemently denied the accusations, has called for a new joint investigation by both Koreas “to verify objectively the truth of the incident.” Pyongyang has warned that its military forces will respond if the Security Council questions or condemns the country over the sinking.

Since the council received the June 4 letter, the five permanent council members - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France - have been discussing a possible response with Japan and South Korea.

NORWAY

Bomb arrests linked to U.S., British plots

OSLO | Three suspected al Qaeda members were arrested Thursday in a Norwegian bomb plot linked to the same terrorist planners behind thwarted schemes to blow up New York’s subway and a British shopping mall.

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