Conflict & Justice

UN mulls removing Taliban names from blacklist shared with Al Qaeda

The U.N. Security Council may remove about 50 Taliban leaders from a blacklist that also contains Al Qaeda figures ahead of peace talks, according to reports.

Afghanistan has asked the U.N.'s Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee to remove the names — including members of the High Council for Peace set up last year by President Hamid Karzai to seek talks with the Taliban, Agence France-Press reports. Those on the list face measures including an international travel ban and having their financial assets frozen.

Karzai set up the peace council, set to meet next week, to seek talks with the Taliban in return for them laying down their arms and accepting the constitution, although its overtures have been rejected by the militants.

Western officials in Kabul are also reportedly trying to set up communication channels with Taliban leaders.

As part of its preparations to scale back its military presence in Afghanistan this summer, the Obama administration is making peace talks a new priority, writes the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. and Afghan governments have said that they are willing to reconcile with Taliban members who renounce violence, embrace the Afghan Constitution and sever ties with Al Qaeda.

Removing some Taliban members from the list would "highlight the significance of the political efforts that are ongoing in Afghanistan," said Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the U.N. and chairman of the Security Council's Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee, at a briefing in the Afghan capital, the AP reports.

Wittig said there was a "desire... to adapt the sanctions regime to the political requirements that are emerging... Of course we recognize in the council the interest and efforts of the Afghan authorities to send out political signals in this fledgling political process and de-list some of the Taliban members."

However, he stressed, not all 50 would be approved.

"We have to manage expectations here — not all of those 50 will be de-listed, it's clear, but if we can come up with a couple of names, that would be a good sign," Wittig said, according to AFP.

The request is expected to draw opposition from countries such as Russia, China and India, AFP reports, and removing an individual from the list requires unanimous support from the Security Council.

There are currently 486 people on the committee's sanctions list, of whom 138 are associated with the Taliban.