UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations defended on Wednesday its recommendation that the 15-member UN Security Council postpone a planned visit to Afghanistan this month over security concerns after some diplomats questioned the UN threat assessment.

Diplomats said the decision to postpone the trip came after UN security chief Gregory Starr recommended earlier this month that they not travel to Afghanistan in the coming weeks, citing concerns for the safety of council diplomats.

Some council diplomats privately questioned the UN recommendation as vague, but others told Reuters it would be unwise to question Starr's assessment of the risk level in Afghanistan.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said a security assessment had been made to the council based on the best information available.

"We stand by the recommendation, but will not comment further," he said.

US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001 when it refused to hand over al-Qaida militants, including Osama bin Laden, after the Islamist network's hijacked airliner attacks on the United States on September 11 that year.

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