From the Times (UK): The US Government acknowledged for the first time yesterday that payment of protection money to the Taleban by Italian forces in Afghanistan was discussed by American officials and their Italian counterparts last year.

A senior US official confirmed, two days after The Times reported that Italian authorities had paid the bribes, that “the issue [of payments] was raised with the Italians”.

The official would neither confirm nor deny that the representation to Silvio Berlusconi’s Government was in the form of a démarche or diplomatic protest, but Nato officials have told The Times that such a complaint was made by the US in Rome last year…

The day after The Times report, a Taleban commander and two senior Afghan officials also said that Italian forces had struck deals to prevent attacks on their troops. (photo: AP)