TITLE= AFGHAN MEETING (L)
INTRO: Taleban authorities in Afghanistan say calls to surrender alleged
terrorist Osama bin Laden are a "pretext" to destroy Taleban rule in
Afghanistan. About one thousand Afghan Muslim clerics have gathered in
Kabul for a meeting to discuss the fate of Osama bin Laden, who is wanted
by the United States for his alleged role in the attacks on New York and Washington. V-O-A's Jim Teeple reports from Islamabad.
TEXT: In a defiant speech read out to the clerics, the Taleban supreme
leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said the enemies of Afghanistan view the
Taleban Islamic system as a thorn in their eye and are seeking to finish it
In his speech to the gathering of the "shura," or council, Mullah Omar said
Osama bin Laden is just the latest "pretext" being used by the enemies of
the Taleban to destroy their rule. Mullah Omar said he wished to assure the
United States and the rest of the world that Osama bin Laden had not used
Afghan territory as a base for attacking anyone. However, the reclusive
Taleban leader also repeated his offer of talks with the United States to
settle all outstanding issues.
President Bush rejected the call for talks, saying now is the time to act.
Mullah Omar also called on the United States to exercise patience and to
provide proof of who was behind the attacks that killed more than
five-thousand people. President Bush says Osama bin Laden is the prime
suspect in the attacks, and he has indicated he wants the Saudi fugitive
taken dead or alive.
Mullah Omar's comments are the first he has made since he met with a senior
Pakistani delegation. Speaking in Islamabad, Riaz Mohammed Khan, the
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said the delegation made every effort
to convey the seriousness of the situation Afghanistan faces.
// KHAN ACTUALITY //
The Delegation impressed upon the Afghan leadership the gravity of the
situation, and what the international community expected from the
Afghanistan government and leadership. We only hope that the Afghan
leadership is able to take the right decisions which are in the best
interests of the Afghan people.
// END ACTUALITY //
Meanwhile leaders of 35 Pakistan Islamic organizations said on Wednesday
they will obey any call for a "jihad," or holy war, against the United States
made by the clerics meeting in Kabul. Maulana Sami-ul Haq, who heads a
grouping of pro-Taleban Islamic groups also warned Pakistan's President,
General Pervez Musharraf against backing any campaign by the United States
and its allies to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. (SIGNED)