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No more blank cheques to Karzai government: US

December 02, 2009 09:40 IST

Issuing a stern warning to the Karzai government President Barack Obama said the days of blank cheques are over and Kabul will have to show progress not only in governance but also providing security to its own people.

"This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank cheques are over," Obama said in his speech at West Point Military Academy, New York, where he announced his new policy on Afghanistan.

"President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance," he said, adding that US would support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people.

"We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas -- such as agriculture -- that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people," Obama said.

Observing that the people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades, he said they have been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign Al Qaeda fighters, who used Afghan land for their own purposes.

"So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country," Obama clarified.

"We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens, he said.

"And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron," Obama said.

As Obama announced a time frame of transition, with the withdrawal of troops beginning in 18 months, the US President said, "It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan. "The absence of a timeframe for transition would deny the US any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government," he argued.
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