NEWS: U.S. blocked talks with the Taliban

Diplomats expelled ‘at behest of the U.S.’

Two European diplomats accused of holding secret talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan were thrown out of the country following a complaint by the US, intelligence officials in Kabul have told The Sunday Telegraph.

Mervyn Patterson, who is British, and Irish-born Michael Semple were flown out of Kabul on Thursday after the Afghan government accused them of “threatening national security”.

The pair had been working for the United Nations and the European Union respectively.

But according to a senior Afghan intelligence source, American officials had been unhappy about meetings between the men and high-level Taliban commanders in the volatile Helmand province.

The source claimed that the US alerted Afghan authorities after learning that the diplomats were providing direct financial and other support – including mobile phone cards – to the Taliban commanders, in the hope of persuading them to swap sides.

“This warning came from the Americans,” he said. “They were not happy with the support being provided to the Taliban. They gave the information to our intelligence services, who ordered the arrests.” [complete article]

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