Tags: Delegation | Press | for | bin | Laden | Hand | Over

Delegation to Press for bin Laden Hand Over

Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM

The visiting delegation opened meetings with Taliban officials in Kandahar, the base of reclusive Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, officials said. The Pakistani team, led by Maj. Gen. Faiz Gilani, warned Taliban leaders that they have only a few days to comply with the U.S. demand, reports said.

Omar has called for a meeting of Islamic clerics to consider a response to any U.S. attacks in Afghanistan. But the Taliban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, was quoted Sunday as telling reporters in Islamabad, "Nothing has changed in our policy on bin Laden," according to a report from the Pakistani capital by the Italian news agency ANSA.

President George W. Bush called Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and urged him to press Afghan leaders to hand over bin Laden. "We had a very good, open conversation," Bush told reporters at the White House Sunday. "There is no question that he wants to cooperate with the United States."

Bush has called bin Laden the prime suspect in last week's systematic destruction of the twin tower New York landmarks and a wing of the Pentagon near Washington. Bin Laden has denied responsibility for the attacks.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he had no doubt about bin Laden's involvement in the attacks, despite denials in an unverifiable statement by the Saudi dissident that surfaced in Islamabad.

"The government of Afghanistan has to understand that we believe they have, indeed, been harboring the man who committed the …whose organization committed this most recent egregious act," Cheney said.

"What we are going to do is aggressively go after Mr. bin Laden, obviously, and all of his associates, and even if it takes a long time, I'm convinced eventually we'll prevail," Cheney said. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld left open the possibility of using nuclear weapons at some point.

"We have to find as many ways possible to deal with this serious problem of terrorism," when asked if the administration would rule out nuclear strikes during an interview with ABC.

In return for its assistance, Pakistan has asked for U.S. help in restructuring its $30 billion international debt and for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions, official sources told United Press International on Saturday.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani reported 190 bodies had been recovered from the site of the collapsed Twin Towers and other buildings, and of that total, 115 people have been identified. He said 4,957 persons have been listed as missing, down from the 5,097 announced earlier Sunday. The mayor said the revision followed the discovery of duplications.

Taliban leaders went on the offensive politically Sunday, seeking the support of other Islamic nations, and restating their full backing for bin Laden, according to media reports from the area.

A meeting of the Taliban supreme council, headed by Mullah Omar, appealed to the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other Islamic states to come to their aid in the event of a U.S. attack.

A spokesman in the Pakistani city of Quetta said the Taliban had urged the OIC to "develop a common strategy to protect Afghanistan."

The Taliban militia, which controls 95 percent of Afghanistan, has observer status in the 57-member organization of Arab, Central Asian, and African Islamic states because only three OIC countries -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognize them Taliban as Afghanistan's lawful government.

A number of leading OIC members, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Iran, which currently holds the presidency of the organization, condemned the triple attack on the Pentagon and the two World Center towers, and offered support to the United States.

Bin Laden's militant Islamic organization has its headquarters in mountainous northern Afghanistan, where bin Laden is believed to be living.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The visiting delegation opened meetings with Taliban officials in Kandahar, the base of reclusive Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, officials said.The Pakistani team, led by Maj. Gen. Faiz Gilani, warned Taliban leaders that they have only a few days to comply...
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2001-00-17
Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM
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