US not in the big `bags of cash` business: White House

The White House Wednesday said it does not indulge in cash transactions in Afghanistan and all its assistance to the war-torn country is accountable to the Congress.

Updated: Oct 27, 2010, 12:24 PM IST

Washington: The White House Wednesday said it
does not indulge in cash transactions in Afghanistan and all its assistance to the war-torn country is accountable to the
Congress, after Afghan President Hamid Karzai had said that he received "bags of cash" from Iran and the US.

"We provide assistance and aid to the Afghan government
through a fairly well-established developmental aid program.
We`re not in the big bags of cash business," the White House
Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters at his daily
news conference.

"The United States provides assistance through US
aid and development programs. We provide aid through a process
that`s appropriated through Congress, goes through steps and
helps in a series of development projects and improves
democracy and governance," he said.

Karzai had acknowledged on Monday that he receives
millions of dollars in cash from Iran. But he added that
Washington gives him "bags of cash" too because his office
lacks funds.

Meanwhile, former Afghan Minister, Ali Jalali, told the
PBS news hour that accepting cash is not a new development in
Afghanistan.

"As far as the cash assistance is concerned, I think
it is not a secret. Many times, I heard it from President
Karzai in the Cabinet meeting, that he said he used it for
certain projects and as well as the US helps Afghanistan, not
only the government, but even some, you know, power brokers
with cash and money," he said.

Pointing out that the situation in Afghanistan is very
complex, Jalali said, "there are so many hands in the jar,
therefore it`s not surprising."
"I don`t think Iran can buy Afghanistan with that kind of
money. President Karzai and all Afghans, I think, believe that
the magnitude of the US` investment in Afghanistan in the
presence of so many troops and the commitment of the US, is
beyond the imagination that somebody will undermine that with
some money," he said.

Jalali agreed that Afghanistan has to live with its
neighbours and he said dealing with neighbours will not
undermine commitment of the international community to the
war-torn country.

He cautioned the international community on Karzai
bashing saying that this will backfire.
"Things are not going well. There`s no doubt about that.
But I think, unfortunately, instead of trying to solve these
problems, defuse these tensions, the -- this Karzai-bashing is
not going to help," he said.

PTI