Expelled officials of EU and UN leave Afghanistan for talking to the Taliban

December 27th, 2007 - 5:22 pm ICT by admin  

Kabul, Dec.27 (ANI): Two expelled senior political officers, one working for the European Union and the other for the United Nations assistance mission in Afghanistan, left Afghan capital Kabul today, a day after the Hamid Karzai Government failed to resolve a dispute with both international organisations over whether the two had held talks with the Taliban. It was the first time that the Karzai-led Government had expelled senior Western officials.
The two men were identified by news agencies as Michael Semple, an Irishman, who is the acting representative for the European Union in Afghanistan, and Mervyn Patterson, a Briton who is a political officer with the United Nations assistance mission.
Both were accused of threatening national security after reportedly talking to the Taliban during a trip to Helmand Province. They were given 48 hours to leave the country. Two Afghans working with the men have been detained, the New York Times quoted Afghan officials, as saying.
United Nations spokesman Aleem Siddique claimed that Kabul had misconstrued the nature of the meetings held by the two political officers, adding that they had met with tribal elders and members of the community of Musa Qala. He rejected the view that the officers had interacted with the Taliban.
NATO and Afghan troops retook Musa Qala from the Taliban on December 10, after a Taliban commander, Mullah Salam, was persuaded to side with the Karzai Government. The Taliban had held sway over the town for 10 months after British troops pulled out, and the area became a haven for Taliban fighters.
Upon learning of the Western officials visit to Musa Qala, Helmand Province Governor Asadullah Wafa lodged a complaint with Karzai, who announced an expulsion order on Tuesday. (ANI)

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