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Viewing cable 09KABUL1377, CODEL LEAHY: CRITICAL TIME IN BILATERAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KABUL1377 2009-06-01 08:08 2011-01-28 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO7120
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1377/01 1520814
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 010814Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9178
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
209437
2009-06-01
09KABUL1377
Embassy Kabul
CONFIDENTIAL

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001377 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL PTER USAID
SUBJECT: CODEL LEAHY: CRITICAL TIME IN BILATERAL 
RELATIONSHIP 

Classified By: Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The members of CODEL Leahy told President 
Karzai during a 5/26 meeting that this was a critical time 
for the Afghan-U.S. relationship. Americans needed 
assurances, especially in this economy, that the money they 
are spending in Afghanistan is being well spent, and that the 
people of Afghanistan are benefiting from it. Karzai replied 
that Afghanistan had made much progress in the past seven 
years, but needed continued U.S. assistance, particularly in 
building capacity in the areas of agriculture and security. 

----------------------------------------- 
Important Point in Bilateral Relationship 
----------------------------------------- 

2. (C) CODEL Leahy (Senators Leahy, Whitehouse and Warner), 
accompanied by Ambassador Eikenberry, met for approximately 
one hour with President Karzai. Senator Leahy told Karzai 
this was a particularly critical time in the Afghan-U.S. 
relationship. President Obama was strongly committed to 
continuing assistance to Afghanistan, but the American people 
needed assurance that such assistance was being used 
appropriately, wisely and for the benefit of the Afghan 
people, especially in light of the troubled world economy. 
Karzai insisted that Afghanistan would do all necessary to 
convince Americans their investment in Afghanistan's future 
was a sound one. Afghanistan had already made substantial 
progress in recent years, but still needed assistance in 
building its capacities in areas such as agriculture, 
security, finance and other areas. 

--------------------------------------------- --- 
Must Promote Capacity Building in the Ministries 
--------------------------------------------- --- 

3. (C) Senator Whitehouse said that he had been impressed by 
the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance and Rural 
Rehabilitation and Development at an earlier meeting, 
referring to their demonstrated commitment to accountability 
and transparency in their ministries. The more progress in 
good governance and transparency, he said, the more goodwill 
Afghans would see from the American people, and the more 
support they would see from the American government. Karzai 
replied that he had a very good cabinet of technocrat 
ministers and advisors. The problem, he said, lay below the 
senior level, and was caused by a lack of capacity in the 
ranks. Karzai referred to India's program of training 1,000 
young Afghans each year for civil service and suggested he 
would like to model an Afghan program along those lines. 

------------------------------------------ 
Need to Promote Development of Rule of Law 
------------------------------------------ 

5. (C) Karzai asserted it would take a long time to restore 
the judiciary because it had been so thoroughly destroyed 
during the war years. Many Afghans still relied on informal 
or community-based systems for swift justice, rather than the 
courts. He believed, however, that it was an encouraging 
sign that Afghans had a higher expectation of justice than 
ever before. The Afghan government was committed to removing 
corrupt and incompetent judges. Karzai cited progress in the 
anti-corruption and rule of law areas, though he was still 
concerned about widespread corruption among officials and 
police, and its impact on the average Afghan. 

------------------------- 
Karzai's Campaign Message 
------------------------- 

6. (U) Karzai said his campaign message would be to stress 
Afghanistan's progress during his seven years as president. 
Most importantly, Afghanistan had been made into a country 
for all Afghans again, and had become a proud member of the 
world community, actively participating in multi-lateral 
talks with nations such as Iran and Pakistan - something he 
could not have imagined six years ago. Average per capita 
income had risen from $180 six years ago to more than $500 
now. Afghanistan had amassed $3.6 BN in foreign reserves, 
and established banking and accounting systems to prevent 
theft and misuse of public funds. Karzai had encouraged the 
establishment of a strong and independent media to hold the 
government accountable. Regarding the narcotics threat, 
Karzai acknowledged serious challenges remained, but noted 22 
of Afghanistan's provinces were free or mostly free of poppy, 
up from just three poppy-free provinces in 2005. 

7. (C) Karzai said when he assumed the presidency, there 
were 4,000 - 5,000 students in Kabul's five universities - 
today there are approximately 75,000 in the nation's 
universities, 45,000 of whom entered the university this 

KABUL 00001377 002 OF 002 


year. Of those 75,000 university students, 25 percent were 
women. The nation, he said, had seven million students in 
its schools, mostly in areas not controlled by the Taliban. 
Over the next 10 years, he expected that population to grow 
as areas were increasingly wrested from insurgent control, 
and new schools opened. He proudly pointed to a program 
initiated four years ago in which female students were sent 
overseas for advanced education, and were now returning to 
Afghanistan with advanced degrees to teach in the schools and 
universities. 

-------------------------------- 
Poppy Production Still a Problem 
-------------------------------- 

8. (C) Karzai said that Afghanistan had always had poppies, 
but forty years ago, poppy was not an important crop in 
comparison to apricots, pomegranates, and other agriculture 
products. He believed the people could be turned from poppy 
production, but feared limited opportunities and poverty 
served to increase the temptation of easy money through poppy 
cultivation. He also criticized some forms of aid or NGO 
gifts. Afghans, he said, needed to take on the work of 
repairing Afghanistan for themselves, rather than having the 
NGOs do it for them. The NGOs were not helping the Afghans' 
work ethic though gifts, but through training. 

--------------------------------------- 
Iranian Attitudes Towards U.S. Changing 
--------------------------------------- 

9. (C) Karzai said the purpose of his May 24 trip to Tehran 
was to participate in Afghanistan's first tri-partite summit 
talks with Iran and Pakistan, on the issue of 
counter-terrorism, among other regional issues. Karzai told 
Iran's leadership the U.S. was a good country and the 
Iranians should seek better relations with the Americans. 
President Ahmadinejad indicated he would be willing to 
improve relations; Karzai believed Iran's attitude towards 
the U.S. was changing. 
EIKENBERRY