Afghanistan's ruling Taleban says a messenger has delivered a week-old message from Afghan clerics to terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, urging that he leave the country voluntarily.
Taleban officials initially said they could not find the terrorist suspect. But Information Minister Qudrutullah Jamal told the Reuters news agency Thursday a messenger had been dispatched to deliver the pronouncement to Mr. bin Laden in person because the Saudi fugitive has no telephone or fax machine.
There is no word on Mr. bin Laden's response. Mr. Jamal also said he has no reason to believe that Mr. bin Laden has already fled Afghanistan.
Top Afghan clerics decided on September 20th that Mr. bin Laden -- the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington -- should leave Afghanistan on his own.
The United States has threatened military action against the Taleban for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden, who is in hiding.
Earlier Thursday, Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said Afghans who want to oust the Taleban with the help of U-S troops will be treated like those who collaborated with the former Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The Taleban leader said he has seen news reports the opposition Northern Alliance is seeking U-S help in its efforts to overthrow the Taleban rulers.