Karzai, UN square off over removing 50 ex-Taliban officials from blacklist

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United Nations, July 12 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to seek the removal of up to 50 former Taliban officials from a U.N. terrorism blacklist, in a gesture intended to advance political reconciliation talks with insurgents.

The Washington Post quoted a senior Afghan official as saying that Kabul has sought for years to delist former Taliban figures who it says have cut ties with the Islamist movement.

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 U.N. 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.

The United States is also opposed to the de-listing of some of the most violent Taliban fighters, including leader Mohammad Omar, but President Barack Obama's Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard C. Holbrooke is eager to reach agreement 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, however, has made it clear that a specially charged U.N. committee he leads will not approve the de-listing solely to boost the peace process.

He has also voiced frustration that Afghanistan has not made a detailed case for de-listing.

"Let me make this absolutely clear: If this information is to be taken into consideration in the course of the ongoing review, receiving it must be a matter not of weeks but of days," he told the U.N. Security Council on June 30.

The stringent requirements of the U.N. review process have undercut Karzai's efforts. (ANI)

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