US, Germany increase pressure on Afghan's Karzai

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2009 10:24 AM

The United States and Germany stepped up pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai Monday to implement major reforms and crack down on rampant corruption.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters after talks in the German capital that additional military and civilian assistance to Afghanistan will depend on Karzai improving the quality of his government.

"Any commitments ... have to be met by an even greater commitment on the behalf of the government of President Karzai to deliver services for the people of Afghanistan, to begin the effort to root out corruption, to have more accountability and transparency in the way that the government operates," Clinton said.

"We are very clear that we will be expecting more from the government of Afghanistan," she said. She added that the United States and its partners in Afghanistan would lay out specific benchmarks for the government to meet.

"We are going to present to the government of Afghanistan and President Karzai a clear set of expectations and of accountability measures so there can be no doubt as to what we expect from this relationship," Clinton said.

Speaking for the German government, Westerwelle said "it is necessary to make the Afghan government, to make President Karzai realize that good governance has to become his very own yardstick."

"We want to ensure that good and peaceful development can occur within Afghanistan and in return we expect of the Afghan government that it makes its own contribution towards this objective," he said.

Clinton and Westerwelle met on the 20th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall. Clinton is in the city leading the U.S. delegation to the ceremonies, which she said on Sunday must be a "call to action" on new challenges and not simply a celebration of the past.

One of those new challenges is Iran, which is defying international demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful and has been stalling since last month on accepting a confidence-building measure that would see most of its uranium shipped out the country for enrichment.

After their meeting, Clinton and Westerwelle renewed warnings to Iran that unless it comes clean on its atomic activities and accepts the uranium proposal it may face the prospect of additional sanctions.

However, they also signaled that despite their growing impatience on the uranium arrangement, which was first presented in early October, there was still time for Iran to avoid such penalties.

"Because we don't yet have a formal reply from the Iranians it would premature to go to any next steps," Clinton said, adding that efforts were continuing to convince Iran to accept and avoid the possibility of fresh sanctions.

"Although it is premature to speculate, at this point, I think the Iranians are well aware that this is a two-track process and we continue to urge them to work with us on the first track of diplomacy and engagement," she said.

Westerwelle agreed.

"We want dialogue and we want a diplomatic solution," he said. "We also know that dialogue and partnership and talks are what are most important. But Iran must also know that our patience in the international community is not unlimited."