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Pakistani Leader: Hopes Dim for bin Laden Handover - 2001-09-30


Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf says he does not hold out much hope that Taleban leaders in neighboring Afghanistan will hand over terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden.

In an interview with the Cable New Network today (Sunday), General Musharraf said signals coming out of Afghanistan from the ruling Taleban about Mr. bin Laden are not very encouraging.

The general said his government will remain in contact with Taleban leaders, noting that the issues of terrorism and widespread suffering inside Afghanistan must be resolved. But he said Pakistan's formal alliance with the the Taleban is no longer in Pakistan's national interest.

He also said the Taleban -- which admits protecting Mr. bin Laden -- faces a growing danger from the international coalition hunting the exiled Saudi dissident in connection with the deadly terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

President Bush has vowed to find and destroy those responsible for the attacks, and to conduct an anti-terror campaign that he's calling the first war of the 21st century.

Despite regional tensions and rising international concerns, General Musharraf said that weapons in Pakistan's nuclear arsenal are safe and could not fall into the hands of extremists.

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