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Tuesday, December 8, 1998 Published at 18:32 GMT

World: South Asia

Taleban urged to respect human rights

The Taleban stand accused of human rights violations

By the BBC's Pam O' Toole

An international meeting on Afghanistan has ended in Tokyo with further calls for a ceasefire in that country's long-running war, and a warning that aid for Afghanistan depends on respect for international law and human rights.

The meeting of the Afghan Support Group, which includes major aid donors along with the United Nations and independent aid agencies, followed increasing difficulties between Afghanistan's dominant Taleban movement, and the international aid community.

A final statement released by the Afghan Support Group expressed continuing concern about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, including what it described as the recent killing of civilians and the pervasive structural discrimination against women and girls.

It called on all Afghan parties, particularly the Taleban, to fully respect international humanitarian law and human rights.

Concern over terror

The group is also said to have called on the Taleban to cease providing safe havens for what it described as "international terrorists"- an apparent reference to the continuing presence in Afghanistan of the Saudi dissident, Osama Bin Laden.

However, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials refused to be drawn on this issue, saying there had been virtually no discussion of political matters in a meeting designed to focus on aid.

Japan used the occasion to pledge a further $3.5m to help Afghan refugees. But the meeting also endorsed the UN position that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan depends on respect for international law and standards.

Many international aid agencies were expelled from Kabul in July after refusing to move to a disused polytechnic building on the outskirts of the city.

The UN and other agencies withdrew later, for security reasons. Many of them, including the UN, have yet to return.

The Afghan Support Group urged the Taleban to provide a comprehensive report about the killing of three UN staff members in Afghanistan earlier this year, and to guarantee the safety of international aid workers.

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