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Karzai seeks removal of 50 Taliban commanders from UN list

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking removal of upto 50 Taliban commanders from a UN terror blacklist in a gesture intended to advance a political reconciliation in his country.

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 16:06 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking removal of upto 50 Taliban commanders from a UN terror blacklist in a gesture intended to advance a political reconciliation in his country.

Though the government had for years sought to delist former Taliban fighters but now the diplomatic outreach at the UN has taken on renewed urgency as Karzai has begun to press for a political settlement at the earliest, the Washington Post reported.

The US, the paper said, was assisting Karzai in the process and had sent Richard C Holbrooke, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, last week to meet UN officials to press them to move forward on the delisting process.

The new campaign to strike off as many as 50 out of 137 Taliban commanders from the list, which imposes a travel ban and other restrictions comes as Afghan government officials are citing that these figures have cut their ties to the Taliban.

Quoting US officials, The Post, said America opposes the delisting of some of the most violent Taliban fighters, including their leader Mullah Omar, but Holbrooke is eager to reach an agreement on removing a slate of purportedly reformed Taliban commanders ahead of a major international conference in Kabul this month, that is aimed at bolstering stability and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

However, diplomatic overtures have met with resistance from UN officials who are demanding more evidence that the individuals have renounced violence.

The Washington Post said, Thomas Mayr-Harting, an Austrian diplomat responsible for overseeing the terrorism list has made it clear that a specially charged UN committee
he heads will not approve the delisting solely to boost the peace process. He complains that Kabul has not tendered detail evidence for delisting.

In October 1999, the Security Council imposed sanctions on members of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time, for refusing to surrender Osama bin Laden to US authorities in connection with al-Qaeda's role in the August 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. In January 2001, more than 100 Taliban leaders were added to the list.

After 9/11, the US ushered through resolutions that added al-Qaeda members and their supporters to the blacklist.

The measures include a travel ban, an arms embargo and a prohibition on the direct or indirect provision of funds or economic resources.

Austria is not alone in opposing the delisting of Taliban terror commanders, The Post said Russia had repeatedly rebuffed the move.