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Taleban Says Islamic Clerics Will Decide the Fate of Osama bin Laden - 2001-09-18


Afghanistan's Taleban officials say a meeting of Islamic clerics to decide the fate of accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has been postponed.

The meeting was to be held Tuesday, but Taleban officials say clerics from all parts of Afghanistan could not reach Kabul in time. They say the meeting will now be held Wednesday. The clerics are to discuss the U.S. demand to hand over bin Laden, who is wanted for last week's attacks in New York and Washington.

The demand was relayed to the Taleban leadership by a high-ranking Pakistani delegation on Monday. The Pakistani delegation held more talks with Taleban officials in Kabul Tuesday. Taleban officials said the talks were "positive," but they did not elaborate.

Taleban officials also denied earlier Taleban media reports that a call for a holy war (jihad) against the United States has been issued. They say the clerics' council has the authority to issue such a call after discussing the situation.

The United States has warned of possible military strikes against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

A U.S. diplomatic team is expected to travel to Pakistan in the next few days to discuss details of cooperation that the Pakistani government has already pledged to provide to fight terrorism.

Pakistan has close ties with Afghanistan's Taleban rulers. Islamabad also faces mounting protests from Pakistani Islamic groups, demanding that authorities stop helping the U.S. government. Pakistan has already closed most of its border with Afghanistan.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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