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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia Propose Sanctions on Taliban

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States, backed by Russia, introduced a draft resolution in the UN Security Council on Wednesday to impose an air embargo and financial sanctions on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban unless it surrenders Saudi militant and accused terrorist Osama bin Laden.

If the resolution is approved, it will be the first time that the United Nations has used sanctions to pursue a suspected terrorist since 1992, when the Security Council punished Libya for harboring suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The proposal also represents an unusual instance of close cooperation between the United States and Russia, which have clashed bitterly over UN policy from Iraq to Kosovo but see eye-to-eye on the Taliban.

Russia, now battling Islamic rebels in Chechnya and Dagestan, views the extremist Islamic government in Afghanistan as a threat to its southern underbelly, where many Moslems live. In recent weeks, Moscow has been rife with rumors that Bin Laden may have had a hand in a series of bomb attacks in Russia.

U.S. and European diplomats said there was no evident opposition in the Security Council to the resolution against the Taliban. Even China, which traditionally objects to the use of economic sanctions, signaled that it could support them if they are carefully targeted.

Bin Laden has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he orchestrated the August 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, killing at least 224 people.

The Taliban have said they will hand over Bin Laden only if the United States supplies hard proof that he committed terrorism.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Noorullah Zadran, declined Wednesday to comment on the sanctions resolution.

The U.S. draft instructs the Taliban to "turn over Osama bin Laden without further delay" to a country prepared to "ensure that he is expeditiously brought to justice." The document also calls on the Taliban to "renounce the provision of sanctuary and training for international terrorists."

The proposed sanctions would bar aircraft owned, leased or operated by the Taliban from landing outside of Afghanistan. They would also freeze the Taliban's foreign bank accounts and property.