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DATE=12/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=AFGHAN / U-N (L UPDATE) NUMBER=2-256715 BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In Afghanistan, a senior U-N official says he has not seen any evidence that Taleban forces are using teenage soldiers in their fight against opposition forces. Ayaz Gul reports the U-N Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Eric de Mul, made the statement at a news conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul, after returning from a tour of the areas where Taleban and opposition forces are clashing. TEXT: Mr. de Mul says he traveled to the frontlines on Wednesday, one day after the Taleban offered to prove to U- N officials that there are no teenage children fighting for the Islamic movement. The U-N official says that while there are young people in the Taleban ranks, it seemed to him that all Taleban soldiers were above 21-years of age. Mr. de Mul's remarks are in stark contrast with a report that the United Nations issued two days ago on Afghanistan. In it, the world body accused the Taleban of recruiting teenagers from religious schools in Pakistan as soldiers. The report says the presence of thousands of young people from abroad - some of them under 14-years old - is unacceptable. The world body says war, drugs, gross human rights violations, and religious extremism makes the outlook for Afghanistan grim. In response to U-N's allegations, Taleban leader Mullah Omar gave the United Nations until Wednesday to send a representative to the battlefield to examine the situation. The Taleban leader has consistently denied that there are any children fighting in the ranks of the Taleban. Relations between the United Nations and the Taleban have been especially tense since the middle of last month (November 14), when the United Nations imposed limited sanctions on the Taleban for failing to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden for trial in the United States or a third country. The world body has frozen Taleban assets overseas and prevented Afghanistan's national airline from flying outside the country. (SIGNED) NEB/AG/KL 01-Dec-1999 13:04 PM EDT (01-Dec-1999 1804 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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