A BRITISH minister accidentally revealed a sensitive government document on Afghanistan on Tuesday which says London should welcome President Hamid Karzai’s departure in 2014.
International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell inadvertently left the documents on display as he left Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office and was photographed by waiting journalists.
The briefing notes say London should welcome Mr Karzai’s intention not to seek a third term as president.
“Note that Karzai has publicly stated his intention to step down at the end of his second term as per the constitution,” the document says.
“This is very important. It improves Afghanistan’s political prospects very significantly. We should welcome Karzai’s announcement in private and in public.”
Mr Karzai was controversially re-elected to a second term in 2009 in a poll dogged by controversy over vote fraud.
The British documents were marked “protected” but a spokesman for the Department for International Development insisted that they were of a “routine nature.”
“They would have had a national security level marking of ‘restricted’ or ‘confidential’ if they contained anything of significant sensitivity,” he said.
Britain is the second-largest provider of troops to the international military effort fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan after the United States, with around 9,500 forces mainly in the south.
Mr Mitchell is the latest high-profile figure in Britain to be photographed with sensitive files on display.
Police chief Bob Quick resigned as Britain’s leading counter-terrorism officer in 2009 after accidentally displaying details of a secret operation to photographers.
Last November, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, the second in charge at the finance ministry, was pictured with a copy of a government spending review document, revealing huge potential job losses in the public sector.