Iran General NewsIran denies payments to Afghan president's chief of staff

Iran denies payments to Afghan president’s chief of staff

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AFP: The Iranian embassy in Kabul on Monday denied as “ridiculous and insulting” a New York Times report alleging that Tehran has sent Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff cash payments.

KABUL, October 25, 2010 (AFP) – The Iranian embassy in Kabul on Monday denied as “ridiculous and insulting” a New York Times report alleging that Tehran has sent Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff cash payments.

“The embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly dismisses the false, ridiculous and insulting allegations by New York Times,” it said.

“Such baseless speculations are being spread by some Western media outlets in order to confuse public opinion and damage the strong ties between the governments and nations of the Islamic republics of Afghanistan and Iran.”

The US newspaper reported Saturday that Karzai’s chief of staff Umar Daudzai has received regular cash payment from Iran, which is trying to expand its interests in the Afghan presidential palace.

Citing unnamed Afghan and Western officials in Kabul, the newspaper said Iran had been using its influence to help drive a wedge between the Afghans and their US and NATO allies.

The payments, which officials say total millions of dollars, go into a secret fund that Daudzai and Karzai have used to pay Afghan lawmakers, tribal elders and even Taliban commanders to secure their loyalty, the report said.

It cited unnamed officials as saying that the Iranian payments are intended to secure the allegiance of Daudzai, a former ambassador to Iran who consistently advocates an anti-Western line to Karzai and briefs Karzai daily.

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