Afghan Taliban chief Haqqani meets UN envoy in Herat

Afghan Taliban chief Haqqani meets UN envoy in Herat

A view from Herat, New York, November 5, 2009, entrance of the United Nations multi-agency compound near Herat. REUTERS Morteza Nikoubazl Sept 16 Reuters - A U.N. envoy has met Afghanistan's new interior minister who was for years one of the most wanted Islamist militants and is now part of a government trying to head off a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The meeting between Sirajuddin Haqqani and Deborah Lyons, head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, focused on humanitarian assistance, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

Haqqani stressed that the U.N. can conduct its work without any hurdle and deliver vital assistance to Afghan people, he said.

Afghanistan was already battling chronic poverty and drought, but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers and the collapse of much economic activity.

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five U.N. foreign staff in an attack against a Guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

Gunmen have attacked a U.N. compound in the state of Mazar-i- Sharif in July with rocket blasts to kill a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Herat in 2011 killed seven U.N. officers.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and held responsible for years on the border with Pakistan, was responsible for some of the most deadly terrorist attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency. In 2012, the United States claimed the group to be a terrorist organisation.

Haqqani, the head of the eponymous network founded by his father, is one of FBI's most wanted men with a reward of $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

Al Qaeda officials and members of the old U.S. government said the Haqqani network had maintained ties to the Afghan government for years ago. The Taliban have promised not to let Afghanistan be used for militant attacks on other countries.