- Michael Semple, an EU official arrested by the Afghan government on Christmas Day last year, said he was confident that most Taliban-linked insurgents could be absorbed into Afghanistan's reconciliation process.
- In his first interview with a British news organisation since he was forced to leave Afghanistan by the government of President Hamid Karzai, Semple defended his role in talking to elements linked to the Taliban. Until 2003 he had been a senior political adviser to the British high commission in Islamabad.
- Semple told the Guardian that he and the UN official Mervyn Patterson, who was also expelled, were victims of local politics. He said a local leader in Helmand province falsely blamed them for talking to what he described as "one of the irreconcilables" in the conflict. They had, he said, opened no such channel to al-Qaida-linked Taliban.
- "There is a critical difference between what is discreet and what is covert," Semple said. "What we were doing was simply discreet because that was what was required. But it was totally in line with official policy to bring people in from the cold."
- We can persuade Taliban to be peaceful - expelled EU man, by Henry McDonald, The Guardian, 16 February 2008.