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Disagreement at UN over travel ban on Taliban officials

#Disagreement #travel #ban #Taliban #officials

United Nations Security Council members remained divided on Monday over whether to exempt some of the Afghan Taliban officials from a travel ban, diplomatic sources said.

Under a 2011 Security Council resolution, 135 Taliban leaders are subject to a sanctions regime that includes asset freezes and travel bans.

Thirteen of them benefited from a regularly renewed exemption from the travel ban to allow them to meet officials from other countries abroad.

However, that exemption ended last Friday after Ireland objected to the automatic extension for another month.

Back in June, the sanctions committee responsible for Afghanistan, consisting of 15 members of the Security Council, removed two Taliban ministers responsible for education from the exemption list in retaliation for the drastic restrictions on the rights of women and girls imposed by the Islamist hardline -Regime.

According to diplomatic circles, several Western countries would like to further reduce the list.

They stress the failure to honor human rights or counter-terrorism commitments made by the Taliban when they returned to power a year ago.

Earlier this month, the United States announced the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul, calling into question the Taliban’s promise not to harbor militant groups.

However, China and Russia supported a regular expansion of the exemption list.

“These exceptions are still just as necessary,” China’s Security Council Presidency said last week, calling it “counterproductive” to link human rights to travel issues for Taliban officials.

According to diplomatic sources, since last week and again on Monday, several compromise proposals that would more or less shorten the list of officers concerned or the number of permitted targets have been rejected by both sides.

Talks are expected to continue.

Pending a possible decision, none of the Taliban officials on the sanctions list will be allowed to travel.

This particularly worried Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who has visited Qatar several times in recent months for diplomatic talks and was among the 13 exceptions.

In a statement released on Twitter on Saturday, a State Department spokesman urged the Security Council “not to use sanctions as leverage” and said all sanctions against Taliban officials should be lifted.

“If the travel ban is extended, it will create distance rather than foster dialogue and engagement, an outcome that must be avoided,” the spokesman said.

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