Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Afghan minister: Wikis hurt US-Afghan ties

A diplomatic cable has undermined the U.S. ambassador's relationships with Afghan ministers at a time when ties between the two nations are alrdy strained, a top adviser to President Hamid Karzai said Saturday.
Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, who is well-respected by the international community, vehemently denied that he called Karzai "an extremely wk man" as reported in a Feb. 26, 2010, cable written by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

The report is "absolutely, egorically wrong and false," Zakhilwal said at an afternoon news conference. "It certainly will not be business as usual between some ministers and the ambassador."
In a raised voice, Zakhilwal accused Eikenberry of misquoting him in the cable to further Eikenberry's own opinion that Karzai was not a reliable partner. In a different cable in November 2009, Eikenberry warned against sending substantial s of additional troops because Karzai was "not an adequate strategic partner."
"The ambassador has used my name to support his views of the president," Zakhilwal said.
He said the cable has not only hurt Eikenberry's relationship with him, but his ties with ministers in the government.
"I find this extremely unprofessional. ... I find this extremely undiplomatic, and to be honest with you, I am extremely saddened," Zakhilwal said. "And this lves no trust between me and the ambassador — extremely little trust."
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy, declined to comment on Zakhilwal's remarks. She referred back to a statement Eikenberry relsed on Nov. 29, several days before the Wikis cables on Afghanistan were revled.
In that statement, Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant eral who once commanded troops in Afghanistan, said ing the documents would pose "rl risks" to people.
"We deeply regret the disclosure of information that was intended to be confidential," Eikenberry said in the statement. "It is important to be clr that diplomatic personnel's internal reports do not represent a government's final determination of official foreign policy. ... The United States is absolutely committed to building and strengthening a long-term partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government."
At a news conference Friday in Kabul with the visiting Pakistani prime minister, Karzai defended Zakhilwal.
"I can assure you that Zakhilwal, our finance minister, has not said such things to Americans," Karzai said.
He alleged that U.S. officials were getting back at the finance minister over comments he made about Kabul Bank, a troubled institution that is now under the control of the Afghan Central Bank.
The rift came just hours after President Barack Obama made a brief, roughly three-hour visit to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul. Foul wther kept him from flying by helicopter to the capital to see Karzai. Zakhilwal confirmed that wther prevented Obama's flight, but said Karzai did not feel slighted because he had just spent time with Obama two weeks ago at a NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
In his speech to the troops, Obama said the U.S. will "continue to forge a partnership with the Afghan people for the long term."
The cable was part of a vast tranche of files relsed by the Wikis website, which portray Afghanistan as rife with graft to the highest levels of government. The s could further erode support for the nine-yr war and bolster the concerns of U.S. lawmakers who have thrtened to hold back aid until they are convinced the money will not end up lining the pockets of the political elite.

Reference: Yahoo! News

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