U.K. envoy to Afghanistan resigns

June 21, 2010 at 8:15 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, June 21 (UPI) -- Britain's special envoy to Afghanistan, often at odds with NATO and the United States over the conduct of the war with the Taliban, has resigned, officials say.

A spokesman for the British government said Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has taken an "extended leave," The Guardian reported Monday.

Cowper-Coles has clashed with senior NATO and U.S. officials by insisting the military campaign against the Taliban was destined to fail and that direct talks with the insurgents should be a priority, the newspaper said.

In July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host an international conference in Kabul that is expected to focus on the controversial issue of talks with the Taliban.

Cowper-Coles, a career diplomat who has served in Saudi Arabia and in Israel, was U.K. ambassador to Kabul from 2007 to 2009, and was appointed special representative in February 2009.

Cowper-Coles is said to have pushed strongly for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan as early as possible, the Guardian reported.

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