Asia

Tillerson in Afghanistan: Photo of meeting apparently doctored

A composite showing Rex Tillerson meeting Ashraf Ghani in photos released by the US and the Afghan government Image copyright US embassy / Afghan government
Image caption Both the US and Afghanistan released photos of the meeting, with a crucial difference - a clock above the TVs

A photo of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Afghanistan appears to have been altered to suggest he was in Kabul, not a US air base miles away.

Images show him meeting President Ashraf Ghani in a windowless room at Bagram Airfield, under a US military clock and a red fire alarm.

But an Afghan press release with a similar photo minus the clock or alarm says Mr Ghani "received" Mr Tillerson.

Both sides initially said that the meeting took place in Kabul.

The US State Department later issued a correction, saying it had taken place at Bagram, the biggest American military base in Afghanistan.

A press release from the US embassy in Afghanistan includes a photo with the wall above the two men's heads cropped out.

However, another photo tweeted by the embassy clearly shows the clock and alarm, "in what would be a giveaway that it was an American military facility", the New York Times notes.

The digital clock shows "Zulu" time (the military term for GMT), local time and Eastern Time.

But in the Afghan government's photo, there is no clock or alarm, with one expert telling the Times there was "no question" it had been manipulated. Neither side has explained the discrepancy.

Image copyright Afghan president's office
Image caption This was the photo released by the Afghan president's office, with no clock on the wall
Image copyright US embassy in Kabul
Image caption A photo of the meeting from the US embassy cropped out the upper wall
Image copyright US state department
Image caption But another US embassy image showed the clock and alarm

Mr Tillerson's visit, said by the New York Times to have lasted just two hours, was kept secret until the trip ended amid increasing security concerns in the country.

Several weeks ago, rockets targeted Kabul airport during US Defence Secretary James Mattis's visit.

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