WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to ask the United Nations to remove as many as 50 former Taliban members from a U.N. blacklist, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
The request to remove about a quarter of the 137 names on the list is aimed at advancing reconciliation talks with insurgents, the report said, citing a senior Afghan official.
At least five of those named on the sanction list are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the Afghan government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners.
The senior Afghan official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Karzai would request that 30 to 50 names be delisted to “remove all those Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda and are not terrorists,” the Post reported.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, met with U.N. officials on Tuesday to press them to move forward on the delisting process, the Post reported, citing sources familiar with the talks in New York.
Holbrooke hopes to reach agreement on delisting some of the purportedly reformed Taliban members before an international conference this month in Kabul that is aimed at bolstering stability in Afghanistan, the article said.
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.
The United States opposes the delisting of some of the most violent Taliban fighters, including leader Mohammad Omar, the Post said.
Karzai’s office said last month that the United Nations had agreed to gradually delist Taliban figures provided they had “no links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.”
U.N. officials were demanding more evidence that they have renounced violence, embraced the new Afghan constitution and severed any links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, The Washington Post said. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Eric Beech)