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Matthew Rosenberg

Matthew Rosenberg ()

KABUL, Afghanistan — The State Department on Monday welcomed a decision by Afghanistan’s new government to allow expelled New York Times journalist Matthew Rosenberg back into the country.

“The reversal of the expulsion order represents a significant commitment by President [Ashraf] Ghani for freedom of the press in Afghanistan,” said a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The administration of former President Hamid Karzai expelled the veteran journalist in August during the protracted election standoff between Ghani and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, now chief executive officer in the government of national unity. Rosenberg was forced to leave after he quoted unnamed officials in the Karzai administration who threatened to seize power and create an interim government if the two camps could not overcome the deadlock.

The reversal of the expulsion appears to indicate that the new government, which has signed a security pact allowing nearly 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan next year, will pursue a more friendly relationship with Washington than had the Karzai administration.

Karzai refused to sign the agreement, which would also allow several thousand NATO advisers to continue working with Afghan security forces, saying it would impede a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. The insurgents have vowed to continue fighting until all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

“Over the past 13 years, a vibrant media environment flourished in Afghanistan, and it is important to protect those gains,” the embassy statement said. “Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy.”

news@stripes.com

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