Global Policy Forum

Taleban Order Closure of UN


By Mohmmad Bashir

Agence France Presse
February 14, 2001

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban Wednesday ordered the United Nations Special Mission (UNSMA) to shut its Kabul office following a US decision to close their office in New York, Taliban officials said.

The Taliban Foreign Ministry said if the ruling militia office in New York is closed then there will be no need to have the UNSMA office in Kabul, adding it should be closed "soonest."

"The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan expects that you close your office at the soonest," the ministry said in a letter to UNSMA.

The letter, released to the media here, did not say whether the order also covered UNSMA offices in other Afghan cities.

The headquarters of UNSMA, which has been trying to promote a peaceful settlement to the civil war in Afghanistan, is based in the Pakistan capital, Islamabad.

Last week the US ordered the Taliban representative Abdul Hakim Mujahid to close his office in New York in compliance with last month's UN sanctions which call for closure of the Taliban overseas offices.

The UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell talked with the Washington authorities two days back to persuade them to allow the Taliban office in New York as a window to transact with the ruling militia.

The Taliban Foreign Ministry letter said the New York office was meant to deal with the humanitarian and social affairs of the US-based Afghans.

The Taliban came under UN curbs for the second time in two years after they refused to hand over terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden wanted by Washington for the 1998 twin American embassy bombings in East Africa.

UN sources said the UNSMA expatriate staff in Kabul were packing to leave shortly.

Vendrell travelled to the US capital after the Taliban warned it would close the the UN office in Kabul if the US government shut down the militia's office.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday the United States was merely complying with the UN sanctions by closing the office.

He rejected any comparison between the Taliban office in New York and the UNSMA, noting "the (Kabul) office provides a lot of important humanitarian support and other contacts with the Taliban, and therefore it should be left open."

Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel told AFP Sunday the Taliban would close UNSMA if the US went ahead with the restrictions.

The row over Taliban office in New York comes amid UN efforts to garner donor support to deal with the humanitarian crisis brought on by severe drought and relentless war in Afghanistan.

According to UN estimates more than 600,000 Afghans have been driven from their homes.

US aid officials last week promised a million dollars in emergency funds to help around 170,000 Afghan refugees who have sought shelter in neighbouring Pakistan since September.

Washington frequently states it has no problem with the Afghan people, and is a major aid donor.

But it makes no secret of its antipathy towards the Taliban, which it accuses of supporting terrorism and committing gross human rights abuses.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday condemned the Taliban refusal to hand over bin Laden.

In a statement adopted by consensus, the 15 council members condemned "the Taliban's continued support for the export of terrorism" and called on all states to enforce UN sanctions against the militia.

At the same time, they noted that a ban on opium poppy cultivation ordered by the Taliban in July "appeared to be having an effect".

The statement was adopted after the US government insisted on Monday that it would order the Taliban to close its office in New York, despite a threat to shut the UNSMA office in Kabul in reprisal.

More Information on Afghanistan
More Information on Sanctions Against Afghanistan


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.