Afghan official offers to quit over leaked US cable

Leaked U.S. cable reports Afghanistan's finance minister describing President Hamid Karzai as a "weak man"

Afghan official offers to quit over leaked US cable

Afghanistan's finance minister offered to resign over a leaked U.S. cable which reported him as describing President Hamid Karzai as a "weak man" and said on Saturday that ties with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were damaged.

Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal told a news conference that he had never used the word "weak" to describe Karzai and said U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry had "used my name to support his view of our president".

"I find this extremely unprofessional, I find this extremely disrespectful, I find this extremely undiplomatic," he said. "This leaves no trust between me and the ambassador."

In a February cable, one of more than 250,000 leaked U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website, Zakhilwal was reported to have told Eikenberry that Karzai was an "extremely weak man" who did not listen to facts.

"I told the president that if he even remotely believes that that is my view about him then I am absolutely willing to step down," Zakhilwal said. "And he told me that he does not believe I would say such a thing and he asked me to stay on."

"It certainly has hurt the relationship with the ambassador, not only between me and him, but between him and some key ministers in the government," he said. "It certainly will not be business as usual between us."

When asked if he thought the U.S. ambassador or other embassy officials should resign, Zakhilwal said that was up to Eikenberry.

In the U.S. cable, released by WikiLeaks on Friday, Zakhilwal was also reported to have told Eikenberry that Karzai was "easily swayed by anyone who came to him to report even the most bizarre stories of plots against him".

Karzai said he was aware that some of his ministers might talk about him, as happens in governments around the world, but that the United States had defamed Zakhilwal.

Reuters
 

Last Mod: 04 Aralık 2010, 15:52
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