Afghan president asks U.N. to add Taliban leader to sanctions list

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s president asked the United Nations on Monday to add the Taliban’s new leader to its sanctions list, in a further blow to efforts to revive the stalled peace process.

Afghan forces have struggled to contain the Taliban insurgency, with two deadly suicide bombings claimed by the group at the NATO air base in Bagram and at a German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in just the past week.

“We want the U.N. to add names of terrorists including Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah (Akhundzada) to its sanctions list,” President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement after meeting with members of the U.N. sanctions committee in Kabul.

Akhundzada was named leader of the Taliban after the death of his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in a U.S. drone strike in May.

One of the Taliban’s main demands for peace talks is for their senior commanders to be taken off the U.N. blacklist that imposes asset freezes and travel bans.

The peace process broke down last year almost immediately after preliminary talks began in Pakistan.

Since then, there have been various efforts to get it started again, including a series of talks involving the United States, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, but none has so far had any success.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan