A Security Council committee has deleted 45 entries from its blacklist of al Qaeda and Taliban individuals and firms under UN sanctions after a full review, Austria's UN envoy said on Monday.
The UN Security Council's Taliban-al Qaeda sanctions committee, which was established in 1999 by resolution 1267, began reviewing each of the 488 individuals and entities on the list two years ago amid criticism that some of those under sanctions were either dead or should never have been listed.
The result of the review was the decision to delete nearly 10 per cent of the individuals and entities facing a global asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo, the committee's chairman, Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, told reporters.
Of those removed from the list, Mr. Mayr-Harting said, 10 were Taliban militants and 35 related to al-Qaeda - 14 individuals and 21 firms, foundations and other organizations.
Afghanistan had pressed the sanctions committee to remove some Taliban names from the blacklist. A recent "Peace Jirga" in Afghanistan recommended talks with moderate Taliban leaders and other insurgents to end an intensifying nine-year war.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai sought the delisting of some 20 Taliban, because they had either joined the government side or were dead.
But Russia, which sits on the committee along with the other 14 Security Council members, had been cautious about deleting names, UN diplomats said. Russia is concerned about Islamic fundamentalism and Taliban-linked drug-trafficking in its region, they said.
Of the 20 Taliban Mr. Karzai wanted delisted, five were removed in January and another five last week. It was not immediately clear if the Afghan government was satisfied, since Kabul has yet to react to Friday's delistings.
Mr. Mayr-Harting said most of the other 10 Taliban whom Mr. Karzai wanted delisted would remain under sanctions. A Security Council diplomat said two Taliban cases were pending and might come off the blacklist at some point in the future.
Seven of the firms removed from the al Qaeda blacklist were companies in the United States and Sweden named Barakaat, such as the al-Barakaat Wiring Service in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Another delisted al-Qaeda entity was the Somali International Relief Organization, also in Minneapolis.
Eight of the individuals taken off the blacklist were dead. There are still some 30 deceased persons on the list.
"We have to have convincing proof that they are actually dead," Mr. Mayr-Harting said, adding that the committee also needed to know what would happen to unfrozen assets after delisting.
He said living individuals must prove they have renounced violence and laid down their weapons, accepted the Afghan constitution and severed all ties with extremist groups.
The review confirmed 132 Taliban and 311 al-Qaeda entries on the list - 443 in all - though some 66 cases are still pending and could possibly be deleted, he said. He indicated the number of future delistings would likely be small.
"It would not be realistic to expect big moves on the list," Mr. Mayr-Harting said.