Afghan FM in Tehran talks after Karzai admits Iran cash

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul arrived in Tehran on the first high-level visit by an Afghan official since President Hamid Karzai admitted Kabul had received Iranian cash payments.

Tehran: Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai
Rasoul arrived in Tehran on Sunday on the first high-level visit
by an Afghan official since President Hamid Karzai admitted
Kabul had received Iranian cash payments.

Rasoul`s visit also comes as Iran is still holding
seven Afghan military personnel who strayed across the border
last month.

Iran`s ISNA news agency reported that Rasoul headed a
delegation including several deputy ministers that sought to
boost relations between Kabul and Tehran.

Karzai`s administration was plunged into controversy
last month after the New York Times reported that his chief of
staff, Umar Daudzai, had received regular cash payments from
Iran.

The report cited officials as saying the payments were
intended to secure the allegiance of Daudzai, a former
ambassador to Tehran who briefs Karzai daily and consistently
advocates an anti-Western line.

The Iranian foreign ministry later acknowledged giving
"assistance" to Afghanistan.

Karzai denied that the payments were secret and
likened them to the financial assistance given to Kabul by
Washington.

Iran, meanwhile, is still holding seven Afghan
military personnel who "inadvertently" crossed into the
Islamic republic last month while chasing Taliban militants.

Iran`s Mehr news agency quoted the commander of the
border police, Hossein Zolfaqari, as saying that Tehran would
release them soon.

The seven, including six officers and a soldier,
reportedly said that they were hunting for Taliban militants
when they strayed into the Iranian border province of
Sistan-Baluchestan where they were arrested.

Sistan-Baluchestan borders both Afghanistan and
Pakistan, and is an area rife with ethnic unrest and drug
smuggling.

PTI

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