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    I never called Karzai a weak person: Zakhilwal

    KABUL (PAN): Finance Minister Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal rejected on WikiLeaks' report that he had branded President Hamid Karzai was a weak person.

    Addressing a press conference, Zakhilwal said: "I have never made such remarks about the president. Instead I've praised Karzai at meetings held at higher levels."

    A cable released by the whistle-blowing website claimed Zakhilwal described Karzai as an "extremely weak man." Another cable said former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar claimed Karzai had no understanding of US policy.

    Similarly, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also called Karzai weak and ineffective in his dispatches to the State Department.

    However, the minister added Eikenberry had never held a positive opinion about Karzai and that was why he himself made such remarks. "In order to strengthen his stance, Eikenberry named me."

    He believed such releases by WikiLeaks were meant to create an atmosphere of distrust between Karzai and his trusted allies. The US ambassador's remarks could not damage Kabul-Washington relations, Zakhilwal insisted.

    The minister said the US ambassador might lose the effectiveness he once had in Afghanistan.

    ss/mud