Washington cannot get bin Laden through sanctions: Taliban
KABUL, Sept 26 (AFP) - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban on Tuesday reiterated that the UN Security Council's threat of harsher economic sanctions would not force them to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to Washington.
In a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel said the Security Council's warning on Monday had been masterminded directly by Washington and Moscow.
It accused the White House and Kremlin of misusing the world body against Afghanistan's religious regime, which now controls most of the country.
"If America and the United Nations believe that the Islamic Emirate (Afghanistan) will bow to their irrational sabre-rattling and economic pressures, they are mistaken," the letter said.
"Osama lives in Afghanistan as a guest, who has never been allowed to use the Afghan soil against others," it said.
The Security Council has warned the Taliban it could face stronger sanctions if it fails to hand over bin Laden.
In his letter, Mutawakel said further sanctions would only "victimize" ordinary people in Afghanistan.2
The Security Council last year imposed a freeze on the Taliban's foreign assets and banned interntional air traffic to areas under its control after the militia refused to hand over bin Laden.
Rioters attacked UN offices across Afghanistan and burned the US flag when the sanctions came into force on November 14.
Bin Laden, a billionaire Saudi dissident, was indicted in New York on November 4, 1998, for the August 7 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam the same year in which 224 people were killed.
The Taliban's numerous proposals for settlement of the bin Laden issue have gone unanswered by Washington, which has also failed to furnish evidence to prove his involvement in the deadly bombings, the letter said.
The United States supported bin Laden when he was fighting with the Afghan resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1978-1988, the letter noted.
In its Monday statement, the Security Council members also expressed "concern at the growing spread of the Afghan conflict beyond its borders," and repeated their demand for all parties to negotiate an end to the war.
The members had earlier been briefed by the head of the UN special mission to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, who had said he would resume contacts with the Taliban and its enemies next week.
The Security Council members "called on the warring sides, in particular the Taliban, to desist from fighting as no gains on the battlefield will bring about an end to the Afghan conflict."
They said they were determined to ensure the Taliban's compliance with the UN demands and were ready "to consider the imposition of further measures" to that end.
The statement said "continuing disregard by the Taliban of demands made in relevant resolutions of the council ... is totally unacceptable."
In fierce battles over the past three months, the Taliban have pushed their opponents led by commander Ahmad Shah Masood from vast areas in Takhar and Kunduz provinces bordering Tajikistan.
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