Taliban promise help over fugitives issue: Pakistani minister
KABUL, Feb 7 (AFP) - Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said Wednesday Taliban authorities had promised to cooperate over scores of fugitives Islamabad wants extradited from Afghanistan.
"Yes we have certainly discussed this. And we have made some progress as well on this issue," Haider told a press conference after formal talks with his Afghan counterpart Mulla Abdur Razaq. "In principle they agree that keeping in view the brotherly relations between the two countries, they (Taliban) do not ever want to see any harm coming to Pakistan."
Haider said the Taliban had agreed to seize the wanted Pakistani fugitives, but details surrounding their extradition to Pakistan or their trial in Afghansistan would be worked out later.
Pakistan has submitted to the ruling Islamic militia a list of 60 people whom Islamabad believes have committed sectarian killings at home and taken refuge in Afghanistan.
Haider said his talks with Taliban's number two Mulla Mohammad Rabbani as well as with Razaq went "very well and were held in a good atmosphere." He said the Taliban had told him they would not "look kindly" on any elements who intended to use the country as a launching pad for operations against Pakistan, the principal ally of the ruling militia.
Haider's visit is the first by a high-level Pakistani delegation since Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup in October 1999.
The Pakistani Interior Minister said he would go to the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday to hand over a message from Musharraf to the Taliban's top leader Mulla Mohammad Omar and to hold further talks with Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel.
He also announced a 100 million Pakistani rupees (1.6 million dollars) aid package for Afghanistan. "We are sending to Afganistan 5000 tonnes of wheat, 5,000 tonnes of rice, 5000 tents and 50,000 blankets," he said.
Earlier Haider was welcomed amid tight security at the rocket-scarred airport by Razaq and other senior officials of the Islamic militia.
The main road from the airport to the Presidential Palace was cordoned off for Haider's motorcade, which was escorted by police motorcyclists and heavily armed Taliban soldiers.
Pakistan is home to around two million Afghan refugees who had escaped the Russian invasion of their country in the 1980s and the subsequent civil war after the Soviet Union's withdrawal in 1989.
Pakistan closed its border with its neighbour a few months ago but despite that some 155,000 new Afghan refugees have poured into the country, fleeing drought and war between the Taliban and opposition forces.
Haider said the cross-border movement was also discussed in his talks with the Taliban authorities. "We want this movement to become more orderly. We have suggested to them that the sanctity of the Durand Line (border) should be restored like that between two sovereign countries," the minister said.
Six crossing points in two frontier provinces bordering Afghanistan, were suggested to the Taliban, he said, adding that a joint commission had been set up to formalize the details. Haider also said the Taliban had agreed that camps be set up inside Afghanistan for the displaced people.
The United Nations last month imposed fresh sanctions on the Taliban for their refusal to hand over indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden and close alleged terrorist training camps.
"We respect these sanctions," Haider said adding that he was yet to discuss the Bin Laden issue with the Taliban authorities. Saudi millionaire Bin Laden is wanted for allegedly masterminding the twin bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 which killed more than 220 people.
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