Britain's Afghan envoy resigns: Foreign Office

8th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan is quitting with immediate effect, London said Wednesday, following a reported clash with NATO and US officials on fighting the Taliban.

Sherard Cowper-Coles temporarily stepped down in June but the Foreign Office had said he would return later this year.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement released by the Foreign Office: "Sherard has made an invaluable contribution to UK policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Hague added that Karen Pierce, the Foreign Office's South Asia and Afghanistan director, would be taking over as special representative.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to be this government's top priority in foreign affairs," Hague said.

Cowper-Coles was appointed to the role in February 2009 by the previous Labour government after serving as ambassador to Kabul for two years.

The Guardian newspaper reported in June that there were serious disagreements in recent months between Cowper-Coles and officials from military alliance NATO, which is leading international troops in the country, and the United States.

He was convinced the military-focused counter-insurgency effort was headed for failure and wanted talks with Taliban insurgents to be a priority, said the daily.

Britain has around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Cameron has said he wants the bulk of British troops out of Afghanistan by 2015.

© 2010 AFP

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