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UN calls for release of worker jailed in Afghan diplomatic row    2007-12-30 06:49:12    

The UN's top envoy in Afghanistan on Sunday called on the Kabul government to release a local employee jailed for talking with Taliban representatives in a diplomatic row that caused the expulsion of two European diplomats.
Kabul (dpa) - The UN's top envoy in Afghanistan on Sunday called on the Kabul government to release a local employee jailed for talking with Taliban representatives in a diplomatic row that caused the expulsion of two European diplomats.

The Afghan government on Tuesday ordered two European diplomats to leave the country within 48 hours after accusing them of posing threats to country's national security.

Michael Semple, a senior official working for the EU mission in Afghanistan and Mervyn Patterson, a senior UN official, left the country on Thursday but their Afghan colleague who was arrested in connection with the same charges remains in prison.

"We're certainly concerned that one consultant working for us is still in jail and we'll do everything to get him out," Tom Koenigs, the outgoing Special Representative of UN Secretary General told a press conference.

Koenigs called the case as a "misunderstanding" and asked the Afghan government to release the jailed UN employee, about whom he gave no details.

The officials were alleged to have held talks with some Taliban militants in the Musa Qala district of southern Helmand province, which was retaken from Taliban militants earlier this month.

Aleem Siddique, a UN spokesman on Thursday admitted that the officials were talking to some local residence in the province about their "needs" and "concerns."

Siddique rejected any talks with Taliban, but said that the officials were there "to talk to people who are favourable towards the government of Afghanistan and also talking to people who are less favourable towards the government of Afghanistan."

However, Waheed Muzhda, a former official, who worked in foreign ministry during the Taliban time, said that the western officials had held meetings with several Taliban commanders including Mullah Mansoor Dadullah.

"According to my information, the two western diplomats had a meeting with some Taliban officials including Mullah Mansoor Dadullah," Muzhda said.

Muzhda's assertions could not be independently verified. However, Taliban fugitive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar has ordered the dismissal of Mullah Mansoor Dadullah in a statement posted on the rebel website.

He was sacked on charges of "disobeying" the leadership's orders.

Mansoor Dadullah succeeded his elder brother, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in an Afghan and international forces operation in the southern province of Helmand in May.

Koenigs also rejected any talks with the Taliban, saying "We at UNAMA are not making intelligence operations. We've no money to pay to anybody because we don't make projects."

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