U.N. to remove Taliban from blacklist: Karzai

Taliban fighters pose with weapons in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan October 30, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

KABUL (Reuters) - The United Nations has agreed to remove Taliban members who renounce ties to al Qaeda from a U.N. blacklist on a “gradual” basis, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said on Tuesday.

Senior diplomats from the 15-nation U.N. Security Council were in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, following a call for a review of the names of Taliban figures on its sanction list at a peace conference in Kabul earlier this month.

“The president asked the U.N. delegates to remove Taliban members from their blacklist and the delegates agreed to do so gradually and provided the members had no links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups,” Karzai’s palace said in a statement.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 freezes assets and limits travel of senior figures linked to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, but recent Afghan efforts to engage some insurgents in diplomacy have raised doubts about who should be on the list.

At least five of those named on the 137-name list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan held a three day peace “jirga,” or conference, in a bid to find a national consensus on ways to end a violent insurgency that has dragged on for almost nine years.

A statement summarizing the June 2-4 meeting of 1,600 tribal and religious leaders in Kabul urged the Afghan government and foreign powers to “take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed from the consolidated blacklist.”

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by David Fox