Arms embargo on Taliban likely: US-Russia move to strengthen Northern
By Masood Haider
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 29: The Russian federation and the United States are
working jointly to table a resolution in the UN Security Council which
would impose an embargo on the sale of weapons to the Taliban in
Afghanistan but would allow the Northern Alliance to acquire arms.
Pakistan, which has repeatedly called for an arms embargo on all warring
parties in Afghanistan, is expected to oppose a one-sided resolution.
But, diplomats here say, given the mindset of the council led by the two
major players who constitute the permanent five, such a resolution could
become a reality.
China, which has consistently opposed sanctions resolution could become a
problem, diplomats here say. Although UK is on board with the Americans,
the French delegation is ambiguous.
Pakistan is expected to lobby the non-permanent members of the council to
oppose such a resolution including, Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada,
Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali and the Netherlands.
For Washington, the driving force behind pushing for such a resolution is
to capture or to flush out their number-one enemy Osama bin Laden from
exile in Afghanistan.
The resolution will land the United States in an unusual position of
aiding the Northern Alliance which is supported by Iran and Russia. The US
has already placed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran.
One diplomat observed that in order to aid the Northern Alliance led by
Ahmed Shah Masood, US would have to "break its own embargo."
The Taliban representative in New York alleges that the Russians want to
pass the more wide-ranging sanctions resolution against the Taliban to
consolidate their presence in the newly-independent Central Asian
The American officials on Tuesday told the Washington Post that they do
not believe that the proposed arms ban would alter the balance of power in
Afghanistan significantly. But they say it would put pressure on Pakistan,
the Taliban's chief political and military ally, to halt the flow of arms
and fighters to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, many UN officials and diplomats here believe that such a
resolution would undermine the efforts by the UN secretary-general's
personal representative and head of special missions to Afghanistan
Francesc Vendrell who is trying to bring the warring parties together for
The Russian and American officials here say that they would like to bring
the resolution to a vote this week, but other diplomats say the
negotiations could drag on because support among the security council's
five permanent members is uncertain.
In the past, despite initial opposition from the council members, the
United States has succeeded in bringing the council members on board.
In the 15 member security council, five permanent members - China, Russia,
France, Britain, and the United States - have veto powers, the 10 rotating
members do not.
Jawed Naqvi adds from New Delhi: India said on Wednesday it would back the
tightening of sanctions against the Taliban if its leaders "persisted with
violence in the country."
The UN's special envoy Francesc Vendrell, held talks in New Delhi on
Wednesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Vendrell, on his second visit here this year, is due to meet External
Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday.
The spokesman said the talks are "an indication that India had a
legitimate concern and an important role to play in the Afghan situation."
India recognizes the ousted regime of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani as the
legitimate government of Afghanistan.
APP adds: A State Department official told Washington Post that it was
hoped the threat of sanctions would help persuade the Taliban to surrender
Osama bin Laden whom the US wants to try for his alleged role in the
August 1998 bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
"What we are trying to do is get bin Laden out of there," the official was
quoted as saying.
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