Afghan president admits receipt of CIA money

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KABUL -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged Saturday that he has frequently received money from the CIA and that he had been promised the agency would continue making such payments.

At a news conference, Mr. Karzai said the payments amounted to "a government institution helping another government institution, and we appreciate all this assistance and help."

He said the money has been used to fund Afghanistan's intelligence agency over the past decade, but he did not disclose how much he had received.

Mr. Karzai said he received the money in the form of cash, meaning the contribution would not be considered part of any formal contribution of aid and would not likely be subject to U.S. congressional oversight.

The Afghan leader has been a frequent critic of the American presence in Afghanistan, saying that the United States has violated his sovereignty and was complicit in corruption that destabilized the country. But he acknowledged Saturday that his government is dependent on foreign assistance.

Mr. Karzai said he had called a meeting this past week with the CIA's Kabul station chief.

"I told him because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money, because we really need it," he said. "We want to continue this sort of assistance, and he promised that they are not going to cut this money."

The New York Times reported a story last week about monthly payments from the CIA delivered in suitcases and shopping bags to his presidential palace. The Washington Post reported on CIA payments to Mr. Karzai's administration in 2010.

At the news conference, Mr. Karzai also said he would sign a long-term security agreement allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country beyond 2014 if the United States guarantees Afghanistan's security from "neighboring countries" and agrees to provide ongoing financial support. Mr. Karzai was most certainly referring to escalating tension with Pakistan, which culminated this past week with Afghan forces overtaking a Pakistani army outpost that officials in Kabul claimed was on Afghan soil.

The Karzai news conference comes a week after the Taliban announced that its "spring offensive" had begun and that "insider attacks," by Afghan troops thought to be loyal, would be used to weaken Western forces.

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