, UNITED NATIONS, Jan 27 – A UN Security Council panel said it has removed five top Taliban officials from its list of individuals subjected to sanctions imposed over their links with Al-Qaeda.
A statement said the panel "approved the deletion (de-listing) of the five entries" from its blacklist of individuals subjected to a travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo.
The move coincided with an announcement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he would press for Taliban names to be removed from the UN blacklist at a major conference on Afghanistan in London Thursday.
Karzai hopes to win Western support at the London talks for a plan to offer money and jobs to persuade Taliban fighters to lay down their weapons.
The commander of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan has said foreign fighters allied with the Taliban cannot be "reintegrated" into Afghan society and some may have to be killed or captured.
Plans by Kabul to persuade Taliban members to lay down their arms would not apply to foreigners who had joined the insurgency, often for ideological reasons, US General Stanley McChrystal suggested in a NATO video posted on the web on Tuesday.
"I think what we probably will find is where we are successful in decreasing the Taliban, the foreigners just won\’t have anywhere to go," he said.
"Some of them will obviously be killed or captured because… this is just what they want to do," he said. "Some will leave I think. But I think they will be increasingly irrelevant."
Foreign fighters are completely dependent on the Taliban and cannot operate without their guidance and networks, he said. Related article: Taliban\’s foreigners will have to flee or fight: US general
The five officials removed from the UN list are Abdul Wakil Mutawakil, who was foreign minister under the now ousted Taliban regime; Faiz Mohammad Faizan, a former deputy commerce minister; Shams-US-Safa, a former foreign ministry official; Mohammad Musa, a deputy planning minister; and Abdul Hakim, a former deputy frontier affairs minister.
The UN statement said Abdul Hakim broke with the Taliban and has been governor of the Afghan province of Uruzgan since May 2007 while Mohammad Musa has been an elected member of parliament from Wardak province since May 2007.
A Western diplomat said the five were now believed to be "moderate Taliban officials" with whom Karzai could start a dialogue.
The UN blacklist had been established under UN Security Council Resolution 1267, adopted in October 1999 for the purpose of overseeing implementation of sanctions imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Osama bin Laden\’s extremist network. Related article: Shadow Taliban government rules Afghans\’ lives
Under the resolution, UN member states are required to impose travel bans, an asset freeze and an arms embargo on any individual or entity associated with Al-Qaeda, bin Laden and/or the Taliban.
To that end, a Security Council sanctions panel, chaired by Austria since January 1, 2009, maintains a list of individuals and entities linked to the two extremist groups.
Austria said the list contains some 500 names, including 142 linked to the Afghan extremist group.