WASHINGTON: The White House denied Tuesday it was giving Afghanistan "bags of cash," after Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it was receiving cash payments from "various friendly countries," including Iran.
"We provide assistance and aid to the Afghan government through a fairly well-established developmental aid program," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters pressing him on the allegations.
"We’re not in the big bags of cash business."
But asked whether he could certify that no US government agency was involved in making cash payments to Afghanistan, Gibbs was more circumspect.
"I am relying on the knowledge that I have on this subject, and I don’t know," he said.
On Monday, Karzai admitted that his chief of staff had received "bags of money" from Iran but insisted the payment was transparent and a form of aid from a friendly country.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that Karzai’s chief of staff, Umar Daudzai, received regular cash payments from Iran.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Washington "remains skeptical of Iran’s motives" in providing money to Afghanistan, urging Afghanistan to shape its own future "without negative influence from its neighbors."