Afghan Leader Admits His Office Gets Bags of Cash from Iran
By DEXTER FILKINS and ALISSA J. RUBIN
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he regularly receives bags of cash from the Iranian government in payments amounting to millions of dollars, as evidence mounted of a worsening rift between his government and its American and NATO supporters.
During an often hostile news conference, Mr. Karzai also accused the United States of financing the “killing” of Afghans by paying private security contractors to guard construction projects and convoys in Afghanistan. His statements were the latest indication that American relations with Mr. Karzai were badly frayed, despite diplomatic efforts to mend ties and improve governance in Afghanistan.
“They do give us bags of money — yes, yes, it is done,” Mr. Karzai said, responding to questions about a report in The New York Times on Sunday that Iran sends regular cash payments to his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai. “We are grateful to the Iranians for this.”
“Patriotism has a price,” he said.
On Sunday, Mr. Karzai held a volatile meeting with the NATO commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, as well as other senior Afghan and Western officials to discuss the private security firms. Mr. Karzai stormed out of the session, saying that he did not need the West’s help, according to people knowledgeable about the confrontation.