Menendez and Karzai Discuss Corruption

by Katherine Howell

In his first trip abroad to Afghanistan and Pakistan as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez met with President Hamid Karzai yesterday in Kabul.

The two men talked about an issue close to their hearts, according to President Karzai’s official website.

“President Karzai said that Afghanistan needs earnest and sincere cooperation of the international community, particularly of the United States in its fight against corruption,” says the press release. “The President called awarding of contracts to relatives and affiliates of Afghan senior officials, a major source of corruption, underscoring that the United States should avoid it.”

Senator Menendez is currently under investigation by the FBI for allegations that he attempted to secure favors for his friend and campaign contributor Salmon Melgen. Menendez recently reimbursed Melgen for $60,000 worth of flights to the Dominican Republic, where Menendez allegedly solicited prostitutes. Menendez is also accused of lobbying for a port-security contract in the Dominican Republic in which Melgen had a financial interest. Menendez has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations against him “smears.”

 President Karzai has also in the past denied allegations of widespread corruption in his government. “Foreigners have defamed Afghanistan so badly in terms of corruption. But it’s not as serious as they think,” he told reporters in 2009.

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