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Afghanistan - London conference

West supports Taliban fund amid reports UN held secret talks

Article published on the 2010-01-29 Latest update 2010-01-29 07:40 TU

A demonstrator outside the London conference on Afghanistan 28 January(Photo: Reuters)

A demonstrator outside the London conference on Afghanistan 28 January
(Photo: Reuters)

While world powers are supporting Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to woo moderate Taliban fighters who disarm, a UN special envoy has denied reports he already secretly met with members of the Islamist militia.

International leaders, who met Thursday in London to discuss the future of Afghanistan, have agreed to back a multimillion-dollar fund for militants who lay down their arms.

The fund is believed to be worth 500 million dollars, and forms the main plank of Karzai's proposals at the conference. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said 140 million dollars had been pledged for the first year.

Meanwhile a UN official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told news agencies that UN envoy Kai Eide , held exploratory talks with Taliban members in Dubai three weeks ago.

Eide, who will step down as UN envoy in March, has flatly denied the reports. The denials came shortly after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he supported moves to negotiate with the Taliban.

The conference was earlier dismissed as propaganda by the Taliban, whom Karzai had invited to join peace talks.

The conference also agreed that Afghanistan should take increasing control of its own security from the end of this year, with Afghan security forces taking over an unspecified number of provinces by late this year or early next year.

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