TITLE=AFGHAN / U-N (L UPDATE)
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)
01-Dec-1999 13:04 PM EDT (01-Dec-1999 1804 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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