Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to seek the removal of up to 50 former Taliban officials from a UN terrorism blacklist — more than a quarter of those on the list — in a gesture intended to advance political reconciliation talks with insurgents, according to a senior Afghan official.
The Afghan government has sought for years to delist former Taliban figures who it says have cut ties with the Islamist movement.
But the campaign to cull names from the list, which imposes a travel ban and other restrictions on 137 individuals tied to the Taliban, has taken on renewed urgency in recent weeks as Karzai has begun to press for a political settlement to Afghanistan’s nearly nine-year-old conflict.
The diplomatic outreach at the United Nations has been met with resistance from UN officials, who are demanding more evidence that the individuals in question have renounced violence, embraced the new Afghan constitution and severed any links with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
On Tuesday, Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, travelled to New York to meet with UN officials to press them to move forward on the delisting process, according to sources familiar with the talks.
The United States opposes the delisting of some of the most violent Taliban fighters, including leader Mohammad Omar.
But Holbrooke is eager to reach agreement on removing a slate of purportedly reformed Taliban members ahead of a major international conference in Kabul this month that is aimed at bolstering stability in Afghanistan.
Thomas Mayr-Harting, an Austrian diplomat responsible for overseeing the terrorism list, has made it clear that a specially charged UN committee he leads will not approve the delisting solely to boost the peace process.
He has also voiced frustration that Afghanistan has not made a detailed case for delisting.
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