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Taleban Warns Ex-King Not to Meddle - 2001-09-30


Afghanistan's ruling Taleban has warned ex-Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah not to meddle in Afghan affairs.

The warning came Sunday in a Kabul radio address from Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, in which he demanded the United States leave Afghans, Arabs and the Muslim world alone.

Meanwhile, the former Afghan king has received a firm pledge of support from a delegation of U-S congressmen at his villa just outside Rome.

Republican Congressman Curt Weldon says ex-King Zahir Shah is perhaps the person who can rally the various Afghan opposition groups against the Taleban.

The former monarch has lived in exile in Italy since 1973. He has called for a rand assembly of elders to galvanize Afghanistan's splintered tribal groups behind a single government of national unity. The ex-king told the congressmen that if the Taleban is removed, he envisions a two-year transition period with an interim leader overseeing the move to free elections.

Congressman Weldon says the former monarch indicated a preference for the United Nations to play a role in creating a moderate government, but left the door open for U-S led intervention.

The 86-year old former king has met with a number of Afghan elders and military commanders in recent days, including representatives from the main military opposition group, the Northern Alliance.

Congressman Weldon says the former king has suggested that there might be a role for the Taleban itself in a transitional regime.

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