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Clinton: Specific demands will accompany U.S. help for Afghanistan

The United States is limiting its goals in Afghanistan and demanding better accountability from that country's underperforming leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday, and she tied additional U.S. civilian help to results from Kabul.

Clinton, an influential voice in deliberations about whether to add large numbers of U.S. troops to an unpopular eight-year war, said Afghan President Hamid Karzai can do more to reduce corruption and go after those who may have looted U.S. aid.

"I have made it clear that we're not going to be providing any civilian aid to Afghanistan unless we have a certification that if it goes into the Afghan government in any form, that we're going to have ministries that we can hold accountable," Clinton said.

The Obama administration wants a tribunal to prosecute major corruption crimes and a new anticorruption commission, she said on ABC's This Week.

"There does have to be actions by the government of Afghanistan against those who have taken advantage of the money that has poured into Afghanistan in the last eight years so that we can better track it and we can have actions taken that demonstrate there's no impunity for those who are corrupt," she said.

President Barack Obama is weighing ways to link the coming troops and money decision to better government performance, but U.S. leverage is limited by the shifting objectives since the 2001 invasion and the history of sloppy accountability on both sides.

"We're going to expect more from the Afghan government going forward and we've got some very specific asks that we will be making," Clinton said on NBC's Meet the Press. Both interviews were done from Asia, where she is traveling with Obama.

Clinton did not spell out what those "asks," or demands, would be, beyond the tribunal and commission mentioned on ABC. Congress has already required the administration to measure the performance of the Afghan government on several fronts, and the coming announcement, before or just after the Thanksgiving holiday, with the post-holiday timing more likely, is expected to expand on that effort and include specific goals for the training and performance of Afghan armed forces.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the Obama administration was also leaning on Pakistan to step up its fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. It reported that Gen. James L. Jones, Obama's national security adviser, was sent to Islamabad with a letter for Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari.

In northwestern Pakistan, a pickup truck laden with explosives attacked a police station today, killing at least three in an area that has become the focal point for militant retaliation against a recent army offensive.

Clinton: Specific demands will accompany U.S. help for Afghanistan 11/15/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 15, 2009 11:44pm]
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