Timeline: The Taliban’s ties with the outside world

(BestGrowthStock) – Ministers from around 60 countries met on Thursday in London to discuss Afghanistan’s future and try to hammer out a strategy to bring an end to the war.

They are expected to back a plan by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to win over Taliban foot soldiers with cash and jobs, while senior U.S. Army generals this week also held out the possibility of eventual peace talks with Taliban leaders.

Following is a timeline showing the Taliban’s relations with the West and its neighbors:

1996

September – The Taliban capture Kabul. U.N. envoy Norbert Holl arrives in Kabul and says Taliban are willing to work for peace.

1997

January – Peace talks are held in Islamabad between the Taliban and opposition forces but no significant progress made.

A Taliban delegation led by Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil visits the United States and meets with Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel.

1998

April – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson visits Kabul to ask Taliban to attend peace talks and discuss fugitive Osama bin Laden. No positive results from the talks.

July 20 – Taliban close down aid group offices after a spat over employment of Afghan women worsens already strained ties, and foreign staff begin leaving the country.

August – Taliban kill 11 Iranian nationals in a consulate office in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, after it falls to their forces. Iran vows to take revenge, and mobilizes forces along its eastern border, but eventually steps back from war.

August – Relations between the Taliban and the United States reach an all time low with missile strikes in southeastern Afghanistan on alleged al Qaeda training camps. The attacks were in response to the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

September 22 – Saudi Arabia, one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government, expels the Islamists’ chief diplomat in Riyadh and recalls its representative from Kabul after relations become strained over bin Laden.

1999

April – U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance break down. The United States steps up its criticism of the Taliban’s stance toward women.

October – The U.N. Security Council passes a resolution for the extradition of bin Laden and imposes sanctions on the Taliban.

2000

December 19 – United States wins U.N. support for tougher sanctions against Taliban, including a freeze on overseas assets.

2001

September 12 – The United States demands the extradition of bin Laden from Afghanistan for involvement in the September 11 attacks on American soil but the Taliban refuse.

September 22 – United Arab Emirates cuts ties with the Taliban and Saudia Arabia follows suit three days later.

October – United States and allies begin bombing campaign on Taliban positions in Afghanistan.

November 13 – U.S.-backed Northern Alliance forces capture Kabul and the rest of the country falls soon after.

2008

September – Senior ex-Taliban officials attempt to mediate talks between the insurgents and Kabul, traveling between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and European capitals. But Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta denies any contact with the Taliban.

2009

May – Senior ex-Taliban official Arsala Rahmani says he and other senior former Taliban members, including former foreign minister Muttawakil and the former envoy to Pakistan Abdul Salaam Zaeef, have contacted Taliban chief Mullah Omar and other senior militants in a bid for peace talks. Rahmani says both sides had exchanged demands.

2010

Jan – General David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, and General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, hold out the possibility of eventual talks with the Taliban leadership to end the war.

– United Nations drops five high-ranking former Taliban members, including Muttawakil, from a blacklist following pressure from Karzai. But British Foreign Secretary David Miliband rules out taking Taliban chief Omar off the list.

– Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, allied to the Taliban, says setting a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops may go some way to meeting their demands for peace talks.

– The Taliban issue a statement on the eve of the London conference reiterating their long-standing position that the withdrawal of foreign troops is the only solution to the war. The Taliban have consistently said they will not enter into peace talks as long as foreign troops are in the country.

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(Compiled by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)

Timeline: The Taliban’s ties with the outside world