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NATO Chief Welcomes Karzai Cabinet Nominations

December 20, 2009

BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's nominations for his new cabinet.

In a written statement, Rasmussen said the Afghan people deserve a government characterized by "integrity and professionalism," and said he welcomes Karzai's "stated commitment to fighting corruption.”

Karzai on December 19 presented his cabinet choices to parliament for a vote of confidence.

The 23 nominees include current Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal -- who are well regarded by the international community -- while two ministers who had been accused of corruption were not included.

Also excluded from the proposed new lineup was Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, and no replacement for him was announced. Spanta is expected to remain in the post until after an international conference on Afghanistan in London in late January.

Karzai, who was sworn in for a second five-year term last month after an August election marred by widespread fraud, has been under pressure from Western countries to clean up his administration and crack down on rampant graft.

compiled from agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/NATO_Chief_Welcomes_Karzai_Cabinet_Nominations/1908592.html

Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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