UN removes Taliban officials from blacklist

The United Nations has removed five former Taliban officials from its blacklist as part of reconciliation efforts in war-weary Afghanistan.

The de-listing, which came on Wednesday, was approved by a special Security Council committee.

The UN said in a statement that the five Afghan nationals would no longer be subject to a freeze on their assets and a travel ban.

The move comes after Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for the lifting of the 2001 UN sanctions against some Taliban leaders.

Karzai had said he would propose the idea at the international conference on Afghanistan which is scheduled to be held in London on Thursday.

The Afghan president says the United States and Britain will show their support for his plan at the conference.

Earlier, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recognized the Taliban as part of Afghanistan’s political arena.

“The Taliban…are part of the political fabric of Afghanistan at this point,” The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying on Friday. He made the remarks during his two-day visit to Pakistan.

Gates said the Taliban should lay down their weapons to play a legitimate role in Afghan politics.

The developments show US President Barack Obama’s administration is willing to accept the militants playing a potentially central role in Afghanistan’s future.

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