[DEBATE] : Afghan expulsions trigger row - EU and UN officials expelled...
Riaz K Tayob
riazt at iafrica.com
Thu Dec 27 09:35:51 GMT 2007
UPDATED ON: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2007
11:33 MECCA TIME, 8:33 GMT
NEWS CENTRAL/S. ASIA Afghan expulsions trigger row
Poppy grown in Afghanistan accounts for 90 per cent of the world's
heroin [File: AP]
A diplomatic row has erupted after Afghanistan expelled a Briton and
Irishman working for the EU and UN for allegedly threatening state
Kabul on Tuesday accused the senior diplomats of having contact with the
outlawed Taliban. Several Afghan colleagues of the two diplomats were
The UN on Wednesday said it was holding talks with the Afghan
authorities over what it described as a "misunderstanding".
But an Afghan official said on the condition of anonymity: "It is the
government's last decision. They are persona non grata."
The Afghan government said that Michael Semple, the acting European
Union mission head, and Marvin Patterson, a senior UN official, held an
illegal meeting with Taliban members.
The pair have been told to leave by Thursday.
The government accused them of holding talks with Taliban members in
The Afghan official said: "Not only did they hold talks with the
Taliban, but also had given them money.
"It is not clear whether they were supporting the insurgency or not."
He said it was unknown if the meeting was an official or personal
initiative but 50 Afghans - including colleagues of the pair - have been
arrested due to their links to the incident.
Aleem Siddique, a UN spokesman, said the men visited the town of Musa
Qala in Helmand province, recently recaptured by US-led forces after 10
months under Taliban control.
"We do not talk to the Taliban - full stop. That is not what we were in
Helmand province to do."
Siddique said the men assessed the "stabilisation" efforts after the
military offensive, and spoke to a number of locals including "people
who are perhaps undecided whether they are supportive of the government
"We have subsequently been informed that our presence in Helmand was
detrimental to national security interests. We disagree with this
assessment," he said.
"We view this as a misunderstanding between us and the government of
Both men have extensive experience of working in Afghanistan and are
experts in local languages and customs.
Siddique said that Patterson would leave in the next 48 hours but that
the organisation was hopeful of his swift return.
The EU could not be reached for comment.
Both the EU and UN are central in the British-led efforts to eradicate
poppy production in Afghanistan, which provides for over 90 per cent of
the world's heroin.
The industry is said by analysts to be the primary reason for the
Taliban's resurgence in the south and east. Source: Agencies
More information about the Debate-list