Berlin: Germany`s development aid minister is on the defensive after it emerged he bought a USD 1,400 carpet in Afghanistan and failed to pay customs duty when it was flown home with Germany`s intelligence chief.
Dirk Niebel`s ministry says the carpet was flown back to Berlin May 20 but Niebel realized only June 6 that customs clearance hadn`t been sought and he is now obtaining it. The minister said he "regrets" what happened.
Ministry spokesman Rolf Steltemeier said today Niebel bought the carpet during a visit to Afghanistan in March but couldn`t bring it back "for logistical reasons." It was left at the German Embassy, which later informed Niebel`s ministry it would be brought home in the plane of the visiting intelligence chief.
Steltemeier said: "We`re not sweeping it under the carpet."