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Karzai blasts his critics as interfering in Afghan affairs

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government lashed out Saturday at his foreign critics, accusing a top U.N. official and other international figures of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

The Foreign Ministry took issue with U.N. Special Representative Kai Eide, who recently issued a list of reforms that he expected Karzai to make. Such comments "exceeded international norms" and "violated respect for Afghanistan's national sovereignty," the ministry said in a statement.

At a news conference Thursday, Eide warned Karzai that he risked losing the support of international donors and troops unless he cleansed his government of corruption and warlords.

"We can't afford any longer a situation where warlords and power brokers play their own games," Eide said. "We have to have a political landscape here that draws the country in the same direction, which is in the direction of significant reform."

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have made similarly pointed remarks since Karzai was declared the winner Monday of a drawn-out election tainted by fraud. Both leaders need a credible partner in Kabul to justify sending additional troops to fight an escalating Taliban insurgency.

"Over the last few days, some political and diplomatic circles and propaganda agencies of certain foreign countries have intervened in Afghanistan's internal affairs by issuing instructions concerning the composition of Afghan government organs and political policy of Afghanistan," the Foreign Ministry statement said. It noted that Karzai has pledged to make the fight against corruption and other reforms a top priority of his next administration. "However, it is necessary to ensure respect for Afghanistan's national sovereignty."

Afghans: Airstrike missed target

Afghan officials said Saturday a NATO airstrike inadvertently killed several Afghan soldiers and policemen a day earlier in northwestern Afghanistan. The airstrike took place amid fighting in Badghis province as Afghan and U.S. troops were looking for two American paratroopers who disappeared in the area Wednesday. The U.S. military said the soldiers on the search operation came under an attack that killed four Afghan soldiers and two policemen, and wounded five American soldiers and 17 Afghan security forces. The Taliban said earlier that the two soldiers had drowned and that it had found the bodies. A parliament member from Badghis, Amir Tawakal, said the soldiers drowned while fishing. U.S. officials did not confirm that the soldiers had died.

Deaths

As of Saturday, at least 833 U.S. troops have died in the Afghanistan war. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:

Army Spc. Julian L. Berisford, 25, Benwood, W.Va.; small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire Wednesday; Paktika province.

Marine Sgt. Cesar B. Ruiz, 26, San Antonio, Texas; combat Oct. 31; Helmand province.

Karzai blasts his critics as interfering in Afghan affairs 11/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2009 10:55pm]

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