- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday confirmed that he receives cash in bags from Iran, but he defended the process as “transparent.”

“This is transparent. … This is something that I have also discussed when we were at Camp David with President [George W.] Bush,” Mr. Karzai told reporters during a news conference in Kabul, noting that “this is nothing hidden.”

“We are grateful for the Iranian help in this regard,” he said. “The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices.”

Mr. Karzai was responding to a New York Times report that said the president’s confidant and top aide, Umar Daudzai, had received plastic bags stuffed with euro bills on a trip to Iran in August.

Mr. Karzai said he was grateful to Iran for the help and that Mr. Daudzai was acting on his instructions.

Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Feda Hussein Maliki, passed the cash to Mr. Daudzai, according to the Times report.

The Iranian Embassy in Kabul in a statement on Monday dismissed the Times report as one based on “baseless rumors” intended to impair relations between Afghanistan and Iran.

Mr. Karzai said the money was used to maintain the presidential office.

U.S. officials are wary of Irans growing influence in Afghanistan.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the U.S. is concerned about the payments because of Iran’s past “negative” role in its neighborhood.

“We’ll let the government of Afghanistan speak to how they spend the financial assistance received from other countries. But we remain skeptical of Iran’s motives, given its history of playing a destabilizing role with its neighbors,” he said.

“We hope that Iran will take responsibility to play a constructive role in the future of Afghanistan,” Mr. Crowley said.

White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton told reporters traveling with President Obama that the “American people and the global community have … every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan.”

Mr. Karzai said he would continue to seek cash from Iran.

In return for this support, Iran has asked for “good relations … and lots of other things,” Mr. Karzai said.

Story Continues →