The Afghan ambassador to Pakistan says terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden is under Taleban control and is being hidden inside the country for his own safety.
Taleban ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef is quoted as saying that only security officials know the whereabouts of the Saudi-born fugitive.
Asked about the statement (on NBC), U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he questions anything the Taleban says. The United States continues to demand that the Taleban hand over Mr. bin Laden
The Saudi exile is the accused mastermind behind terrorist attacks on New York and Washington earlier this month that destroyed the World Trade Center and heavily damaged the Pentagon. More than six thousand people remain missing and are presumed dead in the attacks.
The Taleban ambassador said Mr. bin Laden has been given an edict from Taleban religious elders to leave the country, but had not responded as of this(Sunday) afternoon.
Early last week, the ruling Islamic hard-liners had insisted they did not know the whereabouts of the fugitive. Leaders later said they were in contact with Mr. bin Laden and had delivered a message asking him to leave the country voluntarily.