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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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Iran's Mottaki Opposes Talks with Taliban, UNDP Ties Beyond Karzai Are Unclear

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 -- Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has criticized the United Kingdom, and by implication Afghan President Hamid Karzai, for reaching out recently to Taliban leaders. Wednesday at the UN, Inner City Press asked Mr. Mottaki to explain this criticism. In a four-minute answer, Mottaki said that the history of "the extremist group" in Afghanistan is based on "America, petro-dollars and training course in the region," a reference to U.S. funding to oppose Russia in Afghanistan. He asked rhetorically of the UK's discussions with the Taliban in Musa Ghaleh, "Was that a constructive signal?" He has already said that it is not, that it will only "undermine Afghanistan's government."

            "There is no alternative to Mr. Karzai but civil war," Mottaki said. Video here from Minute 22:00.

Iran's FM Mottaki at the UN on Wednesday

            The UN Development Program appears to feel the same, in keeping with its philosophy of everywhere and anywhere backing governments, no matter their human rights records. At a September 26 event for which UNDP advertised the presence of Hamid Karzai, who did not show up, Inner City Press asked UNDP detailed questions about its operations in Afghanistan, including specifically if UNDP works with the Taliban. After mentioning that UNDP pays the police through the Afghan Ministry of Finance, UNDP's David Lockwood called the questions "very UNDP specific" and said they could be "dealt with separately." It took a week, but on October 3, three project documents and one annual report were provided. The answer to the question about working with the Taliban is still not clear. One of the annexed to be signed by UNDP country director Anita Nirody provides that

"The Government shall remain responsible for this UNDP-assisted development project... The UNDP undertakes to complement and supplement the Government participation and will provide through the Executing Agency the required expert services, training, equipment and other services within the funds available to the project."

            The 2006 annual report of UNDP's operations in Afghanistan show contributions / delivery of over $200 million dollars, one half from the United States and, for example, under $3 million from Denmark. Cisco is listed as providing $26,000; the Republic of Korea, $98,000.

            It is reported that the Republic of Korea, to gain the release of its citizens who went to Afghanistan on their church-project medical team, took $60,000 to the country. One wonders was Iran's Mottaki would make of that...

            Launched recently in Kabul by UNDP's Anita Nirody and Finance Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady was The Accountability and Transparency project, to be implemented jointly by UNDP and the Afghan Finance Ministry. UNDP and "accountability and transparency"? We'll see.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540