Taliban visit Washington

Dec 15, 1997 01:00 AM

A Taliban delegation has visited Washington and was received by some State Department officials. The Talib delegation's meeting with U.S. Undersecretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderforth was arranged by the Unocal, which is eager to build a pipeline to pump gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghan territory.
"We made our position clear, namely that the pipeline could be useful for Afghanistan's rehabilitation, but only if the situation was settled there by political means", a State Department official said on condition of anonymity. He stated that the Taliban representatives were told that they should form "a broadly-based government together with their rivals before the ambitious project to build an oil and gas pipeline is launched".
According to Taliban assessments, only one pipeline could yield almost $ 300 mm for rehabilitating the war-ravaged Afghanistan.
The Taliban delegation included Acting Minister for Mines and Industry Ahmed Jan, Acting Minister for Culture and Information Amir Muttaqi, Acting Minister for Planning Din Muhammad, and recently appointed Taliban Permanent Delegate on the United Nations Mujahid.
A State Department official described the talks as "open and useful". He said that they also touched on the production of opium and open poppy on the Taliban-controlled territory, human rights, treatment of women, and on America's attitude to the projected pipeline. Asked whether there could be problems for the U.S. government if it backed the commercial investments into a country, which is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, who, according to western standards, are oppressing women, the State Department official said that any real "political settlement" would resolve this problem.
In the meantime, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described the Talib government only a month ago as something quite disgusting due to its policy of oppressing women.

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