U.S. lawmakers press Afghanistan's Karzai on graft

Hi guys, today i want to share about U.S. lawmakers press Afghanistan's Karzai on graft!. Senior U.S. lawmakers pressed Afghanistan's president to do more to stop graft, but said on Monday that threats to pull U.S. aid over the issue would only hobble a war strategy that stands a good chance of success.

U.S. lawmakers press Afghanistan's Karzai on graft

Former U.S. presidential candidate and Republican senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman urged President Hamid Karzai at a private dinner to put more effort into battling the endemic corruption giving oxygen to a growing Taliban insurgency.

"I believe that there are still serious problems with corruption here, there are serious problems with contracting, and those we have discussed with the president and other members of the government, as well as our government," McCain told reporters at the end of a tour of the country's restive south.

"But I am convinced we can succeed and will succeed, and Kandahar is obviously the key area. If we succeed there, we will succeed in the rest of this struggle."

McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, said he agreed with new U.S. and NATO forces commander General David Petraeus that the war in Afghanistan was at a make-or-break stage, with the Taliban at their strongest since their 2001 overthrow.

Petraeus took command of the nine-year fight at the weekend after his predecessor, General Stanley McChrystal, was dismissed and the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives approved $33 billion in funding for a troop surge meant to turn the tide of the war.

The surge will bring to 150,000 the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan and entails tackling the Taliban in their southern strongholds while relying on Karzai to improve local governance ahead of a U.S. troop phase-down starting from July next year.

McCain, visiting the Afghan capital Kabul, again voiced reservations about setting a date for a U.S. withdrawal, arguing that President Barack Obama should not pull out troops until the country and government were stable.

He joined Lieberman and Republican senator Lindsey Graham in condemning a vote by a U.S. lower house panel last week to freeze almost $4 billion in aid funding to Afghanistan, blaming corruption concerns.

"That would be a very serious mistake and it won't happen. We have to tell the American people that there is a strategy in play that will succeed," McCain said.

The three lawmakers, speaking after separate talks with Petraeus and senior aides, said they were convinced the surge was well conceived and planned, but the already bloody fight against the Taliban would get worse as insurgents fought back.

More than 100 NATO troops died in June, the deadliest month since the war began, as NATO and Afghan forces intensified operations against the Taliban in the south.

Nearly 1,900 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001.

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