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International relations

U.N. backs decision that keeps Taliban, Myanmar junta out for now

Nations have rival ambassadors appointed by current and ousted governments

The United Nations headquarters building is seen from inside the General Assembly hall.   © Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- The U.N. General Assembly on Monday backed postponing a decision on rival credential claims for the seats of Afghanistan and Myanmar, which means the Taliban and Myanmar junta will not be allowed into the 193-member world body for now.

Rival representation claims were made with the Taliban and Myanmar's junta pitted against ambassadors appointed by the governments they ousted this year. U.N. acceptance of the Taliban or Myanmar's junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both.

A nine-member U.N. credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the United States, last week agreed to defer a decision in both cases, which diplomats said would leave the current ambassadors in the seats for their countries.

The U.N. General Assembly approved the decision on Monday without a vote. The credentials committee is unlikely to again consider the rival claims to represent Afghanistan and Myanmar until late 2022.

The Taliban, which seized power in mid-August from the internationally recognized government, nominated its Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen  as Afghanistan's U.N. ambassador. The current U.N. ambassador appointed by the ousted government, Ghulam Isaczai, also asked to keep the seat.

When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, the ambassador of the government they toppled remained the U.N. representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.

Myanmar's junta, which seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in February, put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its U.N. envoy.

Current Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun - appointed by Suu Kyi's government - also asked to renew his U.N. accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him over his opposition to the coup.

A court in Myanmar found deposed leader Suu Kyi guilty of charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions on Monday, in what some critics described as a sham trial.

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