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“All Afghans are encouraged to join these efforts. The message is clear: engaging for peace pays off,” said Wittig. - File Photo

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council committee overseeing sanctions on Friday removed 14 Taliban leaders from an international blacklist in order to encourage peaceful reconciliation in war-torn Afghanistan.

Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig, who heads the Security Council for the month of July, said the decision “sends a strong signal: the Security Council and the international community support the efforts of the Afghan government to engage reconciled Taliban in a political dialogue in order to achieve peace and security in Afghanistan.”

The 14 Taliban on the list include Arsalan Rahmani Daulat, Habibullah Fawzi, Sayeedur Rahman Haqani and Faqir Mohammad, all members of Afghanistan's peace council, Wittig said.

“The international community recognizes efforts made by member of the High Peace Council to work towards peace, stability, and reconciliation,” said Wittig.

“All Afghans are encouraged to join these efforts. The message is clear: engaging for peace pays off,” said Wittig.

Ahead of the Friday decision, 137 members of the Taliban were on a sanctions list that called for an asset freeze, a travel ban and an arms embargo.

Wittig did not release the names of the other Taliban members removed from the list.

The United Nations Security Council on June 17 split the international sanctions regime for the Taliban and al Qaeda to encourage the Taliban to join reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

The council unanimously passed two resolutions that set up one new blacklist of individuals and organizations accused of links to al Qaeda and a second for those linked to the Taliban militia.

The two groups have until now been handled by the same sanctions committee.

But the international powers wanted to separate them to highlight the divide between Al-Qaeda's global jihadist agenda and the Taliban's focus on Afghanistan.

The sanctions committee was set up in 1999 when al Qaeda had major bases in the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan until they were driven out of power by US-led forces.