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Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

U.N. backs sanctions on Afghan regime

December 20, 2000

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— The Security Council voted Tuesday to impose broad sanctions on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers unless they close "terrorist" training camps and surrender U.S. embassy bombing suspect Osama bin Laden.

The resolution, sponsored by the United States and Russia in a rare show of cooperation, won approval despite opposition from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and aid groups. China and Malaysia abstained, expressing concern that the new measures would only further harm the Afghan people, already suffering from a 20-year war, poverty and drought.

The former rivals over Afghanistan lobbied the 13 other Security Council members hard to adopt the resolution, arguing that the country was a "haven of lawlessness" whose hard-line Islamic rulers protect terrorists at home and support terrorism abroad.

"The Taliban leadership harbors the world's most wanted terrorist: Osama bin Laden," said deputy U.S. ambassador Nancy Soderberg, stressing that the Saudi exile is but one of many terrorists in the country. "Let no one misunderstand: They remain a continuing threat to us all."

The sanctions call for an arms embargo on the Taliban, including foreign military assistance purportedly given the Taliban by Pakistan. The sanctions limit travel by the militia's senior leaders and impose a broader flight ban than the one imposed last year to force bin Laden's surrender.

The measures require all Taliban offices overseas to be closed and, in a bid to deprive the Taliban of revenue from illicit opium production, call for a ban on exports to Taliban areas of acetic anhydride, used to manufacture heroin.

The sanctions will go into effect in 30 days if Taliban authorities fail to close Afghan "terrorist" camps and deliver bin Laden to trial for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Taliban leaders have refused to hand the Saudi exile over, saying the United States has provided no proof he was involved in the blasts. And they have denied the camps are used to train Chechen rebels, who are fighting for independence from Russia.

Taliban officials have said they would boycott new U.N.-mediated peace talks if new sanctions are imposed.

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