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Taliban Orders U.N. Mission Closed

June 25, 2001

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers gave the U.N. mission in Kabul until mid-July to vacate its premises in Kabul, extending an earlier eviction order, the office said on Monday.

Thomas Ruttig, the political affairs officer for the U.N. mission to Afghanistan, said his office was notified by the Taliban on Monday that it had until July 16 to leave.

On Sunday, Taliban foreign ministry official Usman Shaharyar said that the mission had to leave on Monday. He said the office had paid no rent, and had been told six months ago to sign a new agreement.

Ruttig said the mission was paying $500 a month for electricity charges and a municipal tax, but no rent.

The U.N. mission is trying to broker a peace deal between Afghanistan’s warring factions and encourage the formation of a broad-based government. The Taliban control about 95 percent of the country, including the capital.

In May, the Taliban closed the U.N. mission’s offices in the cities of Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad to protest the world body’s sanctions on the hard-line militia.

But Shaharyar said on Sunday that the eviction was not linked with any political issue, and that the U.N. mission could continue to work from a new location.

The issue comes amid increasingly strained relations between the Taliban and the United Nations, which has repeatedly accused the Taliban of harassing aid workers.

The Taliban, who enforce a strict version of Islam, are facing U.N. sanctions for giving shelter to Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden, accused by Washington of running a global terrorist network.

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