Afghan President Got Cash From Iran; U.S. Questions Motives

"(CNN)
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan acknowledged Monday he has received cash from Iran and said the United States knows about it and does the same thing in doling out cash.

In response, the U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States does not question Iran's right to give financial assistance to Afghanistan, nor does it question Afghanistan's right to accept it.

""But we remain skeptical of Iran's motives, given its history of playing a destabilizing role with its neighbors,"" said spokesman P.J. Crowley.

He acknowledged some U.S. aid to Afghanistan during the past nine years -- particularly at the start of the conflict there -- arrived in the form of cash.

White House spokesman Bill Burton echoed Crowley's fears about Iran.

""I think the American people and the global community have every reason to believe that -- or every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan,"" he said aboard Air Force One.

Karzai's comments followed a New York Times report that said Iranian officials once gave the president's chief of staff a bag stuffed with cash as ""part of a secret, steady stream of Iranian cash"" totaling millions of dollars. That stream, the newspaper reported, gives the president and his chief of staff a fund that has been used to pay ""Afghan lawmakers, tribal elders and even Taliban commanders to secure their loyalty.""

Karzai told CNN on Monday that the United States is and has been aware of Iran's financial contributions. He also said that the United States gives bags of money."