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Karzai wants Taliban removed from UN blacklist

world Updated: Mar 28, 2009 19:53 IST

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Saturday on the United Nations to remove from its blacklist the names of Taliban leaders who are not part of Al-Qaeda, as a first step towards peace talks.

Karzai hailed Washington's new strategy for the "war on terror" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including its mention of reconciliation with certain militants.

"While we are speaking about the peace process with the Taliban, we must also make sure to provide the right environment for such a peace process," Karzai told reporters.

"Right environment means first of all looking at the list that is with the United Nations and removing names that are not part of Al-Qaeda, that are not part of the terrorist networks," he said.

"Those names must be removed from the list."

Karzai however dodged questions about whether he wanted the fugitive Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, among those scratched from the list.

"I don't have any specific names right now to mention," he said. "I'm speaking about the principles."

Karzai has previously offered amnesty and talks to Omar, even though he is on a separate US blacklist, should he stop fighting and accept the post-Taliban constitution, which is based on democratic principles.

Omar has refused to join any talks without the withdrawal of the nearly 70,000 US and NATO-led troops helping the government fight the spiralling extremist insurgency.

The UN's "Consolidated List" includes the names of 142 individuals associated with the Taliban and 254 with Al-Qaeda, according to the UN website.

It provides for sanctions, including an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

The ultra-conservative militants were in power in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, when they were removed in a US-led invasion.

They are waging an increasingly deadly insurgency that prompted the strategy review by the United States, the main supplier of troops and aid to efforts to stop the rise of extremism in Afghanistan.