US attorney general arrives in Afghanistan for talks
US Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to hold talks with Afghan officials on how to fight the rampant corruption in the country, the US embassy said, DPA reported.
"Fighting corruption and supporting the rule of law in Afghanistan are top priorities for this administration, and we will continue to assist the Afghan government in creating and sustaining the effective criminal justice system to which the Afghan people are entitled," Holder said in statement issued by the US embassy.
Holder began his trip on the day after Afghanistan's attorney general denounced US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry for interfering in internal affairs by ordering him to arrest a bank executive.
"The US ambassador tells me that 'if you don't arrest Haji Azimi, then you should resign,'" Mohammad Ishaq Aloko said Tuesday. "It is against all diplomatic principles to threaten the attorney general of a country like this."
On Tuesday, the Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials saying that Aloko has repeatedly impeded the prosecution of suspects with political ties.
Among those protected was Haji Muhammad Rafi Azimi, deputy chairman of the Afghan United Bank. Azimi was heard on a wiretap recording discussing bribes paid to Mohammad Siddiq Chakari, the former minister for religious affairs, the newspaper said.
Chakari, who is accused of taking bribes from companies seeking contracts to take pilgrims to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, has fled the country and reportedly lives in London.
"I could not arrest Azimi, because we don't have any evidence against him," Aloko told a press conference.
The US embassy in Kabul declined to comment. Holder was expected to meet with Aloko on Wednesday.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency and its Federal Bureau of Investigation work with Afghan police and counterterrorism officials. Both departments are under Holder's purview.
The US government ordered the deployment of 30,000 additional forces to Afghanistan this year, hoping to reverse the tide of the nearly nine-year war. That will increase the total number of US and NATO troops to 150,000 by August.
But US officials have warned that the military surge will not work if the Afghan government fails to contain corruption.
Afghanistan has been ranked by Transparency International as the second most corrupt state in the world after Somalia.