SLUG: 2-270287 Afghan - U-N Sanctions (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement is threatening to shut down the U-N political office in the country and boycott U-N sponsored peace talks if the world body imposes more sanctions against the war-ravaged country. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports.

TEXT: The Taleban warning follows a U-S and Russian sponsored U-N Security Council resolution that will tighten the existing flight embargo and a freeze on Taleban assets abroad.

The new sanctions, proposed Thursday, would impose an arms embargo on the Taleban, close its foreign offices, and restrict its officials from traveling abroad.

A Taleban foreign ministry statement (issued Sunday in Kabul) says if these sanctions are imposed, it will close the offices of the U-N Special Mission to Afghanistan that do not provide humanitarian aid.

In addition, it says the Taleban would boycott U-N mediation for any peace talks with its rival forces, led by Commander Ahmad Shah Masood. But the statement says the boycott will not apply to any direct talks with the opposition forces.

The U-N Security Council is currently debating the U-S and Russian proposal to tighten sanctions against the Taleban. The move is aimed at forcing the Taleban to surrender suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. Washington wants the Saudi-born Islamic militant in connection with the 1998 bombings of two U-S embassies in Africa.

The Taleban says Mr. bin Laden is innocent and that it will continue to protect him as a guest.

The Taleban criticizes the world body, saying it is no longer a neutral organization and is acting at the behest of the United States and Russia.

International aid agencies have warned that the new sanctions against the Taleban could paralyze efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the Afghan civil war. (SIGNED)