German anger over America's '15 per cent cut of Afghan aid'

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The Independent Online

Germany has accused the US military of swallowing a ¤50m (£42m) contribution to building up the Afghan army by charging a 15 per cent "administration fee".

A series of protests was made by the German government to the US after discovering that money it was raising for nation-building in Afghanistan was being taken by the US. One of the cables sent to WikiLeaks was from the US mission at Nato requesting instructions from Washington after being harangued by the Germans.

The US ambassador to Nato, Ivor Daalder, pointed out there were "serious political concerns" arising from the complaint and warned the perception that "the US is charging allies an excessive fee for the use of monies they have donated" could be "difficult to explain away".

The fund the money was intended forwas set up in 2007 to buy kit and infrastructure for the Afghan army. More than ¤100m had been raised by the start of 2010 with a further ¤150m more pledged. Germany's donation was the biggest.

Some of the protests were made by Ulrich Brandenburg, the German ambassador to the military alliance, who demanded an explanation for the 15 per cent handling fee charged by the US army corps of engineers and wanting to know why projects were being held up.

A cable reporting his anger said: "He said that money for earmarked projects had not been disbursed, resulting in delayed projects. He also said that the US army corps of engineers was charging a 15 per cent administrative fee. He said that German parliamentarians were beginning to ask questions about how this money has been handled, adding that this could make it difficult for Berlin to provide additional contributions in the future."

Germany's ¤50m was transferred to Nato's headquarters in Brussels in October 2009 and ¤7m was intended specifically for three military schools. However, by February this year the Germans were complaining that the money had gone to the US Treasury and "as of today no project financing has occurred".

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