Pakistan Taleban talks fail
Talks between a delegation of Pakistani Islamic leaders and the Taleban authorities in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar have broken up with no sign of progress.
The hardline Islamic regime faces the threat of attacks from the United States if it does not hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the 11 September hijack plane attacks in which more than 6,000 people were killed.
But the AFP news agency quoted Pakistani delegates as saying the Taleban had no intention of bowing to the pressure.
"The Taleban clearly said there was no question of handing over Osama bin Laden, on moral or religious grounds," said Karachi-based cleric Mufti Mohammad Jamil.
Mufti Jamil was part of the 10-member delegation that met Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
But the Pakistani delegation did sign a joint declaration with Mullah Omar agreeing to hold further talks.
"The delegation talked to Mullah Mohammad Omar and with senior officials of the government," said the Taleban consul in Karachi, Rahmatullah Kakazada.
"They decided on future delegations to discuss further co-operation," he quoted the joint declaration as saying.
The Taleban's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who accompanied the delegation to Kandahar, described the day-long talks as "fruitful."
"We didn't go there to discuss Osama Bin Laden, but to discuss the crisis, and talked about the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.
A Pakistani government spokesman, Rashid Qureshi, said President Musharraf had asked the US to hold off from military action while Pakistan pursued diplomatic efforts.
Mr Qureshi was quoted as saying that the situation was a "daily tug-of-war" with the US.
He told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the US was pressing to intervene militarily as soon as possible, while President Musharraf was asking for more time to pursue diplomacy.
On Thursday, the Taleban said Bin Laden had been told of their decision to ask him to leave Afghanistan of his own free will.
The decision to ask him to leave was made by a council of religious leaders and endorsed by the Mullah Omar. Taleban officials said the message had been delivered but would not say where he was.
"We have not lost Osama, but he is out of sight of the people," Ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef told the Associated Press.
The Taleban Information Minister said the clerics' edict was delivered to Bin Laden by hand.
The Taleban have responded defiantly to US and British warnings of a possible attack, saying they have 300,000 fighters ready to fight a holy war.
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