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UN proposing paying nearly $6m to Taliban for security

The United Nations is proposing to pay nearly $6 million for protection in Afghanistan to Taliban-run Interior Ministry personnel, whose chief is under UN and US sanctions and wanted by the FBI, according to a UN document and a source familiar with the matter.

The proposed funds would be paid next year mostly to subsidize the monthly wages of Taliban fighters guarding UN facilities and to provide them a monthly food allowance under an expansion of an accord with the former US-backed Afghan government, the document reviewed by Reuters shows.

The plan underscores the persisting insecurity in Afghanistan following the Islamist Taliban’s takeover in August as the last US troops left, as well as a dire shortage of funds hampering the new government because of a cutoff of international financial aid.

“The United Nations has a duty as an employer to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacity of host states in circumstances where US personnel work in areas of insecurity,” deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq wrote in an email in response to Reuters’ questions about the proposed payments.

He did not dispute the contents of the document.

Deputy Taliban leader and Interior Ministry chief Sirajuddin Haqqani is wanted by the FBI for attacks against coalition forces and Western interests, including in connection with a January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including an American citizen.

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