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USIS Washington File

08 December 1999

Text: U.S. Government Statement on Afghanistan at Ottawa Meeting 12/8

(U.S. continues efforts to seek an end to Afghanistan conflict) (1320)
"Prospects for peace in Afghanistan have continued to be discouraging
since this group's last meeting in June," the U.S. Government said in
a statement prepared for delivery at the Afghan Support Group's
meeting in Ottawa, Canada, December 8.
"The Taliban's insistence on pursuing a military resolution to the
conflict has led over recent months to the further dislocation of
Afghan society," the statement read.
The U.S. statement addressed the following points:
-- The Six-plus-2 process has also been a disappointment. (Six
neighbors of Afghanistan including Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China, plus the United States and Russia,
along with the United Nations and all members states, agreed to look
at ways to limit and check the flow of arms and other supplies to the
warring parties).
"United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and most Six Plus Two
members have questioned the practical utility of the Six Plus Two. The
process is currently frozen. It can be re-energized only if the member
countries seriously commit themselves to a united effort to bring the
warring parties to negotiations."
-- Our efforts to bring Usama bin Laden to justice continue. Since
August 1998, the United States has repeatedly contacted the Taliban
and encouraged them to expel bin Laden without delay to a country
where he can be tried. The Taliban were, and continue to be,
unresponsive.
-- We remain concerned about other issues with the Taliban, including
their appalling human rights policies, especially their treatment of
women and girls.
-- Recent surveys show that Afghanistan has added to its shame the
status of number one producer of opium in the world. We are exploring
cooperation among Afghanistan's neighbors to confront this threat.
The U.S. was encouraged by the meeting of a cross-section of Afghans
in Rome November 22-25 at the initiative of former king of Afghanistan
Zahir Shah to discuss plans for convening an emergency loya jirga
(assembly) to discuss a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
"The most productive way to address all of these issues will be a
cessation of the civil war and the formation of a broad-based,
traditionally broad-minded government that represents the interests of
all Afghans and respects the tenets of Islam. We continue our efforts
to seek such an end to the conflict," the statement said.
Following is the text of the statement:
(begin text)
U.S. GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON AFGHANISTAN
TEXT AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
AT THE AFGHAN SUPPORT GROUP MEETING
OTTAWA, CANADA, DECEMBER 8, 1999
SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN
Prospects for peace in Afghanistan have continued to be discouraging
since this group's last meeting in June. The Taliban's insistence on
pursuing a military resolution to the conflict has led over recent
months to the further dislocation of Afghan society. During the
Taliban's offensives in the Shomali Valley last summer, and in the
northern provinces in October, thousands of homes, fields, and
orchards were destroyed and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians
forced to flee the violence. Many of these destitute people remain
short of food and shelter in the Panjshir Valley, stronghold of the
Northern Alliance. We welcome recent reports that the United Nations
has successfully negotiated the safe passage of humanitarian
assistance through Taliban lines to the displaced persons in the
Panjshir Valley. We urge the Taliban to follow through on this
commitment.
SIX PLUS TWO - MORIBUND AT THIS POINT
The Six Plus Two process has also been a disappointment. The Tashkent
Six Plus Two meeting last July ended without a consensus, when
Turkmenistan refused to sign the proposed declaration, claiming that
it contained an anti-Taliban bias. This declaration called for
non-interference in the conflict by Afghanistan's neighbors and for
negotiations between the warring parties. The Taliban offensive
followed this conference by days, indicating that the Taliban were
planning for war even as their representatives were attending the
Tashkent meeting -- and professing their desire for peace.
As a result, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and most Six
Plus Two members have questioned the practical utility of the Six Plus
Two. The process is currently frozen. It can be re-energized only if
the member countries seriously commit themselves to a united effort to
bring the warring parties to negotiations.
The need for dialogue is more apparent than ever. As winter
approaches, the military situation is largely in stalemate. Neither
side appears strong enough to defeat the other. The chronic fighting
promises only to produce more human suffering. Afghans are sick of war
and eager for a peaceful settlement. The time has never been more
right for the warring parties to set down their weapons and come to
the negotiating table. Only by desisting from its military efforts and
agreeing to negotiate can the Taliban bring the hope of peace to
Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance has signaled its willingness to do
this. The Taliban have not.
ROME - SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN DIALOGUE
Former King of Afghanistan Zahir Shah's initiative to bring together a
wide spectrum of Afghans to discuss a peaceful resolution of the
conflict is encouraging. A cross-section of Afghans met in Rome from
November 22 to November 25 to discuss plans for convening an emergency
loya jirga. This meeting was facilitated by Italy, with the U.S. and
other interested parties, including the United Nations, observing. We
encourage all Afghan parties to continue exploring avenues to a
peaceful resolution to the conflict.
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
Our efforts to bring Usama bin Laden to justice continue. Since August
1998, the United States has repeatedly contacted the Taliban and
encouraged them to expel bin Laden without delay to a country where he
can be tried. The Taliban were, and continue to be, unresponsive.
In July, President Clinton issued an executive order blocking Taliban
property and banning U.S. business transactions with the Taliban. In
August, a second executive order placed Taliban-owned Ariana Airlines
under sanctions.
The international community has also moved to bring bin Laden to
justice. On October 15, the United Nations Security Council
unanimously passed Resolution 1267 which calls for the Taliban to stop
sheltering bin Laden and ensure that he is turned over to a country
where he will be brought to justice. The Taliban had 30 days in which
to comply with this resolution. To our regret, the Taliban chose to
defy the Security Council, and since November 14 have been under UNSCR
1267's sanctions provisions. Under the sanctions regime, Taliban
assets are frozen worldwide, and flights operated by or on behalf of
the Taliban are banned from UN member states' territories.
I must emphasize that these sanctions were designed to minimize the
impact on the Afghan people and allow humanitarian assistance to
continue unimpeded. They do not address trade with Afghanistan --
trade in food and medicine will not be cut off. A committee to be
established by the Security Council can also approve exemptions for
humanitarian need, including the fulfillment of religious obligations.
These sanctions are targeted against the Taliban, not the Afghan
people.
We urge all UN members to implement these sanctions rapidly and to
assist the UN in identifying Taliban assets and aircraft.
We remain concerned about other issues with the Taliban, including
their appalling human rights policies, especially their treatment of
women and girls. Recent surveys show that Afghanistan has added to its
shame the status of number one producer of opium in the world. We are
exploring cooperation among Afghanistan's neighbors to confront this
threat.
The most productive way to address all of these issues will be a
cessation of the civil war and the formation of a broad-based,
traditionally broad-minded government that represents the interests of
all Afghans and respects the tenets of Islam. We continue our efforts
to seek such an end to the conflict.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State.)



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