(Updates with Karzai comment in second paragraph.)
Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The government of Iran provides “very transparent” financial aid to Afghanistan once or twice a year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on state television today.
Iran has offered assistance in euros or dollars since “the transitional government of Afghanistan was established,” Karzai told reporters today during a joint press conference with the president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmon. “Sometimes it gives 500,000 euros and sometimes less,” Karzai said, adding his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai, receives the money according to “my orders.”
The New York Times reported yesterday that, in August, Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Feda Hussein Maliki, gave a plastic bag filled with euros to Daudzai on Karzai’s personal aircraft. The Times cited an Afghan official who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
The payment, part of a stream that totals millions of dollars, was intended to promote Iran’s interests and to counter U.S. and other Western influence in Afghanistan, the Times said, citing unidentified Afghan and Western officials in Kabul.
The U.S. said yesterday that Iran shouldn’t interfere with Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
“We understand that Iran and Afghanistan are neighbors and will have a relationship,” Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement “But Iran should not interfere with the internal affairs of the Afghan government.”
Karzai said today the Iranian money is spent on the “construction of the Afghan government.”
Iran has been providing funding for the government, as well as for its Taliban opponents, the Times reported, citing an unidentified senior NATO officer.
The militant Islamic Taliban controlled Afghanistan and sheltered the al-Qaeda terrorist network before being ousted by a U.S.-led invasion of the country following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S.
--With assistance from Phil Mattingly in Washington. Editors: Mark Williams, Ben Richardson.
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