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Afghanistan: Taliban Agrees To Surrender Kandahar

Islamabad, 6 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Taliban has agreed to surrender Kandahar, its last stronghold, but the conditions of the surrender are still being worked out. Taliban spokesman Abdul Salam Zaeef said today that Taliban fighters will surrender to Mullah Naqibullah, a former guerrilla commander against Soviet occupation troops, starting tomorrow.

"Today we agreed to surrender Kandahar and other places peacefully to the leaders of tribes, not to [Hamid] Karzai and other ones," he said. "Both sides, Karzai and the Taliban authorities, have agreed to surrender Kandahar for the welfare of the people."

Zaeef said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar made the decision to surrender to prevent civilian deaths amid heavy U.S. bombing.

The head of Afghanistan's new interim government, Hamid Karzai, told CNN that the Taliban's Omar will be afforded protection if he promises to "renounce terrorism" and will be allowed to "live with dignity" in Kandahar. Karzai said Taliban fighters not involved in terrorism will be allowed to disband and return to their homes.

Zaeef said further talks will be held to determine the fate of Arab and other foreign fighters loyal to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Karzai said the transfer of power will take "two or three days."

For more on this story, please see: Afghanistan: As Kandahar Surrenders, Is Political Accord Unraveling?.