Afghanistan Embargo Criticized
By NICOLE WINFIELD
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Human Rights Watch criticized the United States and Russia on Friday for a proposed arms embargo on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, saying it doesn't adequately address the country's civil war or the poverty it has caused.
In a letter to the Security Council, the New York-based group said the arms ban should cover the Afghan opposition as well as the Taliban, because both were responsible for grave rights abuses and both needed to be stopped from making war.
And it said existing sanctions on the Taliban-run airline should be lifted so international aid can reach the country more easily.
``Ongoing abuses against civilians must take center-stage in any international intervention,'' the organization's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in a statement. ``The United Nations should not ignore key humanitarian and human rights issues when it deals with Afghanistan.''
The United States and Russia are jointly pressing the Security Council to adopt the arms embargo next week on the Islamic militia to pressure its leaders to turn over Osama bin Laden for trial and close what they say are terrorist training camps in the country.
Washington accuses the Saudi exile of masterminding the twin embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Bin Laden is also being investigated for his possible role in the Oct. 12 bombing of the USS Cole warship as it refueled in Aden harbor in Yemen, killing 17 U.S. sailors.
The Taliban has refused to hand bin Laden over, saying the United States has provided no proof of his involvement.
U.S. and Russian officials have said the one-sided embargo isn't being imposed to favor one side or the other in Afghanistan's war, but to counter terrorism.
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