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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 09:13 GMT

World: South Asia

UN warns Taleban

The UN wants a cease-fire in Afghanistan

By United Nations Correspondent Rob Watson

The United Nations Security Council has threatened Afghanistan's Taleban rulers with unspecified sanctions unless they agree to a cease-fire and the resumption of negotiations with rival forces.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council also demanded the Taleban stop providing what it called sanctuary to terrorists.

This latest UN resolution will make unpleasant, if somewhat familiar, reading for the Taleban.

[ image: Taleban women: On the UN agenda]
Taleban women: On the UN agenda
It demands they stop fighting, start negotiations and end violations of international human rights law, including discrimination against women and girls.

The resolution also demands the Taleban stop providing what is described as sanctuary and training for international terrorists.

Despite the harsh language, though, the resolution packs little punch.

Russia had wanted it to contain a specific threat of sanctions.

But other council members were either opposed to sanctions on ideological grounds or simply felt they would not be practical or effective in such a war-torn country.

In a typically diplomatic compromise, the Council instead expressed what it vaguely described as a readiness to consider the imposition of measures if its demands were not met.

Privately, UN officials say they do not believe the Taleban, or any other group in the country, take much notice of Security Council resolutions.

Some officials also say the passing of more UN resolutions disguises the real problem in Afghanistan, namely the interference from its neighbours, such as Pakistan and Iran.

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