KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that the CIA's station chief in Kabul has assured him that regular funding that the U.S. intelligence agency gives his government will not be cut off.
He said at a news conference that the Afghan government had been receiving funds from the CIA for more than a decade as part of regular monthly assistance from the U.S. government.
Karzai had earlier confirmed that his government had received such payments following a story published in the New York Times that said the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.
Karzai said he told the station chief: "'Because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it. We want to continue this sort of assistance.' And he promised that they are not going to cut this money."
Karzai described the payments as a form of "government-to-government" assistance, and while he wouldn't say how much the CIA gave to the National Directorate of Security, which is the Afghan intelligence service, he said the financial help was very useful. He claimed that much of the money was used to care for wounded employees of the NDS, Afghanistan's intelligence service, and operational expenses.
"We have spent it in different areas (and) solved lots of our problems," Karzai said.
He said the CIA payments were made in cash and that "all the money which we have spent, receipts have been sent back to the intelligence service of the United States monthly."
The CIA declined to comment on Saturday.
During the news conference at the presidential palace, Karzai also discussed ongoing negotiations on a U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement. He said talks had been delayed because of certain conditions that Afghanistan was insisting be included in the pact, which will govern a U.S. military presence after 2014 when nearly all foreign combat troops are to have finished their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The talks, which started in late 2012, are set to last up to a year.
President Barack Obama has not said how many troops will remain, although there have been estimates ranging from 8,000 to 12,000. It is unlikely such an announcement will be made until the security agreement is signed. Those troops would help train Afghan forces and also carry out operations against al-Qaida and other militant groups.