The United States says it will not block a proposed peace mission to Afghanistan by Jesse Jackson, but the civil rights activist will also receive no U-S backing for the mission.
Interviewed on U-S television (N-B-C's Today Show) today (Thursday), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the United States is interested in action not dialogue by Afghanistan's ruling Taleban.
Mr. Armitage said the decision on whether to go to Afghanistan is up to Mr. jackson.
Speaking on the same program, Mr. Jackson said he does not want to go to Afghanistan. But he said he would consider it, if he thought reasonable progress could be made toward securing the hand-over of Osama bin Laden, the man President Bush says plotted the September 11th suicide hijackings.
Mr. Jackson said he would also hope to secure the release of eight foreign aid workers held hostage by the Taleban on charges of promoting Christianity.
He noted he had handled similar hostage challenges in Syria, Cuba, Kuwait, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia."
Meanwhile, The Taleban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaaef, says Mr. Jackson was not invited to mediate or travel to Afghanistan by the Taleban, as Mr. Jackson has said. However, he says Mr. Jackson is welcome to visit Afghanistan if he likes.
But Taleban officials say if Mr. Jackson does visit Afghanistan, he will not meet with the Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.