KABUL: Two European diplomats accused of dealing with the Taliban have flown out of Afghanistan after talks failed to stop them being expelled. One is a high-ranking British UN employee, Mervyn Patterson, the other is acting head of the EU mission in Afghanistan, Irishman Michael Semple. The Kabul-based pair were accused of posing a threat to national security. Their visit to Helmand, and a complaint lodged by the governor, has raised the issue of talking to the Taliban.
The Afghan government knew Mr Patterson and Mr Semple were in Helmand and had been meeting tribal elders, so there has been some confusion over the government’s decision.As yet, there has been no explanation from the foreign or interior ministries as to exactly why the men were told to leave.
Talks are continuing in the hope the pair, considered two of the most respected and knowledgeable international experts on Afghan affairs, will be allowed to return to the country.
Despite UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s insistence that Britain does not negotiate with the Taliban, local-level talks are seen as a vital part of the strategy to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, our correspondent says.-SANA