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Afghanistan's Islamic Clerics Discuss the Fate of Osama bin Laden - 2001-09-19


Several hundred of Afghanistan's Islamic clerics are meeting in the capital, Kabul, to discuss international demands to extradite suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and avert possible U-S military action.

Speaking at the gathering, Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar again said the Taleban wants to assure the world that the Saudi exile is not permitted to use Afghan soil to launch attacks against any country. He urged the United States to exercise patience and gather all needed evidence to track down the real culprit behind last week's attacks in New York and Washington and to turn that evidence over to the Taleban Supreme Court.

However, Mullah Omar said if Washington still wants to attack Afghanistan, the Islamic clerics should support his call for a holy war against the United States and other countries that help America.

U-S authorities have named Osama in Laden as a prime suspect in last week's attacks and warned of possible military strikes against him and his terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, the U-N Security Council repeated its demand for the "immediate and unconditional surrender" of the accused terrorist. The Council passed a resolution last year imposed strict sanctions against Afghanistan's Taleban rulers for sheltering him.

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is to address his nation today (Wednesday), one day after a high-level Pakistani delegation returned to Islamabad following two days of talks with Taleban officials in Afghanistan.

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

Islamabad faces mounting protests from Pakistani Islamic groups who are demanding that authorities stop helping the United States. Tuesday, several Pakistani religious parties staged rallies in Lahore and Karachi to demonstrate against the United States and Pakistan. Protesters vowed to resist moves allowing the United States to sue Pakistani airspace, land and territorial sea to launch possible military strikes against Afghanistan.

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