Obama aides suggest going soft on Afghan corruption

Aides think they need to refrain from promoting US-style corruption fighting.

Last Updated: Sep 13, 2010, 12:53 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama`s top aides have concluded they need to refrain from promoting US-style corruption fighting in Afghanistan because of the rift it has caused with President Hamid Karzai, The Washington Post reported.

Citing unnamed US civilian and military officials involved in Afghanistan policy, the newspaper said Obama`s top national security advisers will meet with him to discuss the problem this week.

The advisers do not yet agree on the contours of a new approach, the report said.

But there is a growing consensus that key corruption cases against people in Karzai`s government should be resolved with face-saving compromises behind closed doors instead of public prosecutions, the paper reported.

"The current approach is not tenable," The Post quoted one administration official as saying. "What will we get out of it? We`ll arrest a few mid-level Afghans, but we`ll lose our ability to operate there and achieve our principal goals."

The report contrasted with Obama`s public remarks on Friday, when he vowed to keep up pressure on Karzai to tackle widespread corruption, saying it threatened the stability of that country.

Speaking at a news conference, Obama spoke of progress on various fronts in Afghanistan, but said it was crucial to tackle corruption "as part of helping President Karzai stand up a broadly accepted, legitimate government."

Obama said that every time he talks to Karzai, he reminds him the "only way you are going to have a stable government over the long term is if the Afghan people feel you are looking out for them."

"And that means making sure that the tradition of corruption in the government is reduced," he added. "And we`re going to keep on putting pressure on him on that front."

Bureau Report