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Afghan president: No corrupt officials in new govt

RAHIM FAIEZ | 11/8/2009, 9:30 a.m.

KABUL (AP) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai, under fire from his international partners to clean up his administration, insisted Sunday there's no place for corrupt officials within his government.

Elsewhere, NATO officials said there was still no trace of two American paratroopers who went missing four days ago after trying to retrieve supplies from a river in western Afghanistan.
NATO forces said a U.S. service member was killed Saturday in an insurgent attack in the west. The alliance said in a statement that the death was not related to the search for the missing paratroopers.

President Barack Obama and other international leaders have urged Karzai to crack down on corruption after he won Afghanistan's fraud-marred election by default. Karzai was proclaimed the winner last week after his main challenger pulled out of a runoff, saying he did not expect a fair vote.

"Individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government," Karzai said in an interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service. The presidential press office released comments from the interview.

Karzai also said donor countries share some of the responsibility for rampant corruption because of a poorly structured system to manage projects. The U.N. and some donor countries have also cited the need for a more efficient system to guarantee the money serves the Afghan people.

"There is no accountability of their contracts and there is a serious corruption in the implementation of those projects. And the responsibility for this corruption is the international community," Karzai said. "I am hopeful that by joint cooperation we will be able to overcome all these challenges."

NATO forces said they were still searching for two American paratroopers who disappeared in the remote northwestern province of Badghis on Wednesday while trying to recover airdropped supplies that had fallen into a river. Local police said the two Americans were swept away by the river.

Fierce fighting with insurgents broke out during the search operation Friday, and NATO and Afghan forces are investigating whether a botched NATO airstrike was to blame for the death of seven Afghan soldiers and police and an Afghan interpreter during the rescue operation. Seventeen Afghan troops, including soldiers and police, five American soldiers and another Afghan interpreter were wounded, NATO has said.

In southern Afghanistan's violence-wracked Helmand province, a British soldier was killed in an explosion Saturday, Britain's Defense Ministry said Sunday. Britain is the largest contributor to NATO forces in Afghanistan after the United States with about 9,000 troops in the country and 500 more committed by the government last month.

The death of the soldier brings the total number of British forces who have died in Afghanistan to 231.

In the east of the country, militants twice attacked a fuel supply convoy as it made its way along a main supply route between Pakistan and the Afghan capital of Kabul, wounding at least two private security guards and a policeman, police said.

The first attack near the city of Jalalabad injured the two guards, set two fuel tankers on fire and damaged three other trucks, said provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan.

Afghan police later joined the convoy to escort it to Kabul, but the vehicles came under attack again in the neighboring province of Laghman, leaving one policeman wounded and damaging three other trucks, said deputy provincial police chief Naqibullah Hotak.