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A UN committee is to consider lifting international sanctions against some former Taliban figures.

The move comes at the request of the Afghan government.

It has asked for 18 people to be removed from the sanctions list. Sanctions include a travel ban and the freezing of assets.

The request is seen as part of broader efforts to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan and to explore the possibility of peace talks.

A vote on the issue will take place in New York on 16 June.

The sanctions were imposed in 1999, when the Taliban were in power, and were expanded after the 9/11 attacks on the US.

Mohammed Qalamuddin - whose name is one of those the committee will consider removing from the list - was head of the religious police under the Taliban.

He banned make-up and high heels for women and television for everyone.

For that role he was subject to international sanctions but has since run in elections in Afghanistan and was appointed by President Karzai to the High Peace Council, the body supposed to prepare the way for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

Britain and the US are backing that process and with it the removal of some people from the sanctions list if they are thought vital to hopes of peace.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says that there have not yet been talks or even talks about talks, merely contacts designed to pave the way for discussions which might lead eventually to negotiations.

Because the Taliban is splintered - with many different groups - it is not clear if any one figure could sign a deal that would stick.

Another summer of fighting is expected, perhaps worse than ever.

Our correspondent says that some Afghans are nervous about the peace process, worried that it would mean the return of the Taliban or at least Taliban influence.

They remember the days when Mohammed Qalamuddin's religious police would beat women in the streets for failing to wear the burka, our correspondent says.

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