Taliban demands end to travel ban

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The Afghan militants say they can bring “security and stability” where the US and NATO failed

The Taliban government of Afghanistan has demanded that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) remove all sanctions on its members and allow them to travel, in the interest of “dialogue and engagement” with the world.

In a statement on Saturday, a spokesman for the group called on the Security Council not to “use sanctions as a pressure tool.” One day earlier, the council failed to reach an agreement on extending a sanctions waiver allowing 13 senior Taliban officials to travel abroad to attend talks and conferences.

Some 135 Taliban officials were slapped with travel bans and asset freezes by the UNSC in 2011, but exemptions were granted to 13 of these officials in 2019 in order for them to attend peace talks in Qatar.

With the Taliban back in power after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, the UNSC’s members are deadlocked on how to treat the militants. The US has proposed reinstating the travel ban on seven of the 13 officials, while allowing the other six to travel only to Qatar. Russia and China have suggested that the waiver be extended for another 90 days, but only for travel to Russia, China, Qatar, or other “regional countries,” Al Jazeera reported.

Western diplomats have cited the Taliban’s failure to form an multi-ethnic government and rollbacks in women’s rights as justifications for the travel ban.

However, the Taliban accused “some bigoted Western circles” of using the ban to “create distance between Afghanistan and the world.”

“If the travel ban is extended, it will create distance instead of promoting dialogue and engagement, an outcome that must be prevented,” the group said. “An Afghanistan where [the] US, NATO and 50 nations with full strength failed to establish peace and stability, today’s security and stability therein is in the interest of the whole world.”

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