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Taliban Again Seeks UN Recognition, Pipeline Project

Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban regime seized control of the northern city of Pul-e-Kumri today, one of the last remaining opposition military strongholds in the country. Pul-e-Kumri is the fourth strategic city to be taken by the Taliban in just under a week and a half, bringing Taliban militia one step closer to inflicting their rigid version of Islamic law on all Afghan citizens.

Following this week's military gains, Taliban military officials are positioning themselves for a seat in the United Nations, which is currently occupied by former Kabul government president Burhanuddin Rabbani. Recognition by the UN would allow advancement on a pipeline project that would carry petroleum products from Central Asia to India, Pakistan, and western Afghanistan. The project, headed by California-based oil company Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, would greatly benifit the Taliban, who describe it as the "economic backbone of the country," with thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in annual royalties.

Russian officials feel that Taliban advances pose a serious threat to their Commonwealth of Independent States, and plan to support opposition forces against recognition in the United Nations. They are joined by several other European nations who have been vocal in opposing the Taliban's harsh version of Islamic law, which has banned women from going to work , attaining an education, or receiving health care in Afghanistan.

Media Resources: Agence Free Press - August 11, 1998



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