Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The UN council adjourned to discuss the Taliban’s travel exemptions

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UNITED NATIONS – A divided U.N. Security Council was struggling to reach an agreement on whether to extend travel exemptions for 13 Taliban officials who now rule Afghanistan, which are set to expire at midnight Friday.

Diplomats said Russia and China want to allow the 13 to continue to travel while the US and Western countries are determined to cut the number to protest the Taliban’s rollback of women’s rights and failure to form a comprehensive government as promised.

Dozens of Taliban members have been on the UN sanctions blacklist for years, subject to travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes. But some Taliban officials were granted exemptions so they could travel to participate in talks aimed at restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban’s invasion of Afghanistan last August 15, as US and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years, up to 700 people have been killed and 1,400 wounded. because safety in general has improved. according to a report last month by the UN political mission in Afghanistan. He highlighted how women have been stripped of many of their human rights, banned from secondary education and subjected to restrictions on their movements.

In June, the Security Council’s sanctions monitoring committee on the Taliban banned two Taliban officials from traveling in response to their crackdown on women — Said Ahmad Shaidkhel, acting deputy education minister, and Abdul Baqi Basir Awal Shah, also known as Abdul Baqi Haqqani. , Acting Minister of Higher Education.

With travel exemptions for the remaining 13 Taliban officials expiring, the United States proposed Thursday to reimpose the travel ban on seven of them and maintain the exemption for six others but limit their travel to Qatar only, where US-Taliban talks are underway, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions have been private.

Russia and China made a rival proposal that 13 Taliban officials be granted travel exemptions for 90 days, but only to go to Russia, China, Qatar and “regional countries”, diplomats said.

Russia and China opposed the US proposal, diplomats said, and the United Kingdom, France and Ireland opposed the Russia-China proposal, insisting that the exemption could not continue for all 13 officials because of the Taliban’s lack of progress in meeting his. commitments to women, forming an inclusive government and other issues.

On Friday afternoon, diplomats said, the US revised its proposal that would ban travel for seven of the Taliban officials and maintain travel waivers for six others for 90 days without geographic restrictions.

If the 15-member council does not reach an agreement before midnight on Friday, a travel ban will be re-imposed on all 13 Taliban officials.

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