UNITED NATIONS - A UN panel on Monday removed 10 Taliban along with 35 Al-Qaeda members and affiliates from its sanctions terror list after its first exhaustive review of 488 blacklisted names.
"As a result of the review of 488 names, 45 were delisted," said Thomas Mayr-Harting, chair of the UN Security Council panel that maintains a blacklist of individuals and entities linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
He told a press conference that those removed, following requests from governments, include 10 individuals who had been associated with the Taliban as well as 14 individuals and 21 entities linked at some point to Al-Qaeda. Individuals on the list are subject to asset freezes, a travel ban and an arms embargo.
Mayr-Harting said 443 names - 132 Taliban and 311 from Al-Qaeda - were confirmed on the list, though a final decision for 66 among them is still pending.
Last week, five of the 10 Taliban removed from the list were named as Abdul Satar Paktin; Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad Awrang, a former Afghan envoy to the UN; Abdul Salam Zaeef, author of "My life with the Taliban;" and two officials who are now deceased.
As part of his efforts to promote national reconciliation, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had asked the Security Council to remove names of some Taliban members who were not linked to Al-Qaeda from the terror blacklist.
The Karzai government has set conditions for peace talks with Taliban insurgents, demanding militants renounce violence, accept the Afghan constitution and rescind ties with Al-Qaeda.
The Afghan reportedly sought the removal of up to 50 former Taliban officials from the blacklist, including those of a number of persons now deceased.
Mayr-Harting's panel, with the help of a sanctions monitoring team, spent 18 months reviewing the list.
The Austrian envoy noted that a total of eight deceased individuals were delisted, while some 30 others remain on the list.
"It's not easy to get dead people off the list," he added. "We have to have convincing proof that they are really dead and also we have to have information on what happened to their assets, and this in many cases takes some time."
Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN's analytical support and sanctions monitoring team, said about 120 states, roughly two thirds of UN membership, were approached not just to obtain information about the listings but also to get general opinions on the sanctions regime.
"Of course some lack capacity and in Afghanistan, where a lot of the names are based, it was difficult to get really good information from the authorities there. But they did spend some time trying to provide us with what we wanted," he noted.
Among al-Qaeda-linked entities delisted were Bank al Taqwa Limited, four Barakaat firms based in the Unites States, the Somali International Relief Organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Swedish-based Somali network.
A Syrian, an Egyptian, a Tunisian, a Lebanese, a Malaysian and a Pakistani once linked with al-Qaeda were also taken off the list.
The UN blacklist was established under UN Security Council Resolution 1267, adopted in October 1999 to oversee implementation of sanctions imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Osama bin Laden's extremist network.
Under the resolution, UN member states are required to impose travel bans, an asset freeze and an arms embargo on any individual or entity associated with Al-Qaeda, bin Laden and/or the Taliban.
Delisting requires unanimous approval from all 15 members of the Security Council's sanctions panel.
The blacklist with all its entries is available on the Internet at: http: www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/index.shtml.