Afghan Taleban recognise Chechen govt

Reuters
Jan 16 2000 10:28AM ET

KABUL, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's ruling Taleban Islamic movement on Sunday became the first government to recognise the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya but said it could hardly give any help to Chechens in their conflict with Moscow.

The formal recognition was agreed by Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar during a meeting with a Chechen delegation on Sunday at his headquarters in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar, Taleban Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakil told a Pakistan-based Afghan news service.

Mullah Omar agreed that the Chechen government ``can open its diplomatic mission in Kabul from today,'' a Taleban spokesman told Reuters in the Afghan capital.

It was the first time any government had recognised rebel Chechnya and comes as a bloody four-month-old Russian military campaign against the rebels is facing strong resistance in the regional capital Grozny and in the south.

``The delegation requested the Taleban leader to recognise the Chechen government, and the Taleban leader accepted this request on the basis of Islamic brotherhood and recognised the Chechen government,'' the private Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted Muttawakil as saying by telephone from Kandahar.

He said the Taleban, itself struggling for international recognition, had intended to recognise Chechnya anyway but that the urgency of such a move had increased because of the Russian assault.

Asked if the Taleban could help the Chechens fight the Russian offensive, a Taleban spokesman, Tayeb Agha, said Mullah Omar had told the Chechen delegation that his movement had ``limited ability in terms of giving such help.''

The Taleban government, accused by the West of helping international terrorism is fighting a northern-based opposition alliance and is recognised by only three countries -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Moscow has repeatedly accused the Taleban and some Pakistan-based militant groups of training warriors to fight Russia in Chechnya. The Taleban and Pakistan deny the charges.

The Taleban government, which controls about 90 percent of Afghanistan, in turn accuses Russia of helping the opposition alliance that holds the remainder of the country, which Moscow had occupied in the 1980s under the former Soviet Union.

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