UK minister displays sensitive Afghan documents

A senior British minister has risked an embarrassing diplomatic row after he accidentally revealed a government dossier "welcoming" the departure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Updated: Aug 31, 2011, 20:48 PM IST

London: A senior British minister has risked
an embarrassing diplomatic row after he accidentally revealed
a government dossier "welcoming" the departure of Afghan
President Hamid Karzai.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was
photographed leaving the prime minister`s residence at 10
Downing Street yesterday with what appeared to be briefing
notes on Afghanistan and its president, Karzai, who will
finish his second term in 2014.

The dossier marked "Protect" makes clear government
attitudes towards the impending departure of Karzai, and
towards criticism of the Afghan banking system by the
International Monetary Fund.

Confirming the UK government is pleased Karzai is
intending to stand down after two terms in office in 2014, the
document reads: "This is very important. It improves
Afghanistan`s political prospects very significantly. We
should welcome Karzai`s announcement in public and in
private."

The document also details British government concerns that
foreign aid to Afghanistan is sent to a finance ministry and
banking sector of questionable standing. Funds have been
suspended, but the document says the IMF will send a new
inspection team in the autumn.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary William Hague has dismissed
the severity of the incident, telling the BBC that Mitchell
was carrying a "low-level briefing document".

Mitchell is not the only British official to commit the
gaffe. Two years ago, Metropolitan Police Assistant
Commissioner Bob Quick was forced to resign after being
photographed leaving a breakfast meeting at 10 Downing Street
with a document that revealed details of a counter-terrorism
raid.

Later that month, then-Communities Secretary Hazel Blears
was photographed carrying a proposal by then-Prime Minister
Gordon Brown to end second homes allowances.

PTI