Friday, November 06, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) France criticizes US over Afghan policy

France criticizes US over Afghan policy
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 02:29:00 +0000

FRENCH Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner hit out at the United States and Germany for failing to co-ordinate on Nato policy and branded Afghan President Hamid Karzai "corrupt", in remarks reported yesterday.

According to the New York Times, Kouchner complained that President Barack Obama’s US administration was trying to draw up a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan without consulting its European allies in Nato.

At the same briefing, according to the Financial Times, Kouchner told reporters that Europe had failed to agree its own policy on Afghanistan, partly because German soldiers "are not there to fight". "What is the goal? What is the road? And in the name of what?" Kouchner asked, according to the New York Times report.

"Where are the Americans? It begins to be a problem . . . We need to talk to each other as allies."

Asked about Nato policy, Kouchner said: "It’s not working at all."

"Even as Europeans, we are not talking to each other," he said, according to the Financial Times’ account of the meeting. "This is ridiculous. This is shameful because our soldiers are dying."

The French minister said any new strategy would involve working closely with newly re-appointed Afghan leader Karzai, despite concerns about ballot rigging and corruption at the heart of his regime.

"Karzai is corrupt, OK," he said, according to the Times’ report. "We have to legitimise him."

Karzai was named president for his second term on Monday after a chaotic election in which the first round was marred by massive fraud and the second round abandoned after his main opponent dropped out in disgust.

Nevertheless, Kouchner said the allies had no choice but to work with Karzai in order to get the mission in Afghanistan back on track and build a state capable of protecting its people and holding of the Taliban.

Kouchner’s spokesman Bernard Valero did not deny the frank comments had been made, but sought to put his criticism of allies in a broader context.

On Germany, whose forces in Afghanistan operate under tight rules which limit their ability to go on the offensive, he said: "Bernard Kouchner had the opportunity to talk on this subject with his German counterpart on Monday.

"They publicly reaffirmed their identical views and analyses. Each country sets its own rules of engagement. It’s a subject we talk about. These rules evolve to reinforce the coherence of our collective action." — AFP.

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