November 1999 News

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Taliban vow not to hand over Laden

10 November 1999
The Hindustan Times

Dubai: The Foreign minister of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government has vowed his government would not hand over Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden to the United States. Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil made in his comments to the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Ittihad published today, a few days before UN sanctions go into effect against the Taliban. He reiterated a Taliban offer to allow the 55-member organisation of the Islamic conference to monitor bin Laden's movements.

We repeat that we will never hand over Osama bin Laden and will not force him out (of Afghanistan). He will remain free in defiance of America, Muttawakil said. We never gave concessions and we maintain our principled position that rejects handing over bin Laden to an infidel nation, he added.

The Taliban warned the United States today to end hostility towards it or face disasters such as storms and earthquakes. Washington said it noted the Taliban warning but said it was unmoved in its quest to bring bin Laden to trial.

US-initiated United Nations sanctions go into effect against the Taliban on November 14 unless they expel bin Laden, who is blamed by the United States for orchestrating the bombings of two US embassies in Africa last year that killed more than 200 people. The Taliban have rejected the Security Council resolution and dismissed the demands to expel bin Laden, who has been living remittently in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power more than three years ago.

America appears determined to implement the sanctions on Afghanistan and talking about it is a waste of time and America will not achieve anything (by imposing the sanctions), Muttawakil said.

We are not saying the sanctions won't have any effect. They will have financial and moral effects on the Afghan people because Afghanistan's already battered economy will further deteriorate, capital flow into Afghanistan will be affected, traders will be afraid to strike deals, and development and infrastructure projects will be affected as well as trade.

Despite that we trust that the people of Afghanistan have patience and we will overcome this crisis, Muttawakil said. He said the Taliban would try to lobby Muslim support around the world to face the sanctions.

If the Security Council guarantees that America will not harm Osama bin Laden, we will put him in a public place under the supervision of the organisation of the Islamic conference to assure everybody of his movements, Muttawakil said. (Reuters)


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