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UN: Afghan Envoy Pledges Support Of Anti-Taliban Coalition

  • Robert McMahon

The United Nations Security Council today delivered a new warning to Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to extradite accused terrorist Osama bin Laden. The statement from the council comes as the United States continues to build support for action against bin Laden, named as a prime suspect in the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Separately, the representative of the UN-recognized Afghan government has offered the support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in helping to capture bin Laden.

United Nations, 19 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations Security Council is calling on Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to hand over accused terrorist Osama bin Laden "immediately and unconditionally."

The council president, French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, read a brief statement early today calling on the Taliban to comply with council resolutions. He referred specifically to resolution Number 1333 of late last year. That resolution calls on the Taliban to hand over bin Laden for extradition to the country where he is indicted -- the United States -- or to another country where "he will be arrested and effectively brought to justice."

"Today, there is one and only one message the Security Council has for the Taliban: Implement the resolutions of the Security Council immediately and unconditionally."

U.S. officials name bin Laden as their top suspect in the terror attacks in New York and Washington, attacks which are believed to have killed more than 5,000 people. UN Security Council resolutions also call on the Taliban to end support for terrorist bases on land under their control and to end sanctuary for any other suspected international terrorists.

The council statement early today came as U.S. President George W. Bush was meeting French President Jacques Chirac to discuss solidarity in fighting terrorism. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and top officials from the European Union, Germany, Russia, and China are all scheduled to meet with President Bush this week.

In a separate development yesterday, Afghanistan's representative at the United Nations -- a foe of the country's Taliban rulers -- says his side is offering military and logistical support to the United States in its pursuit of terrorists in the country.

The representative, Ravan Farhadi, says the Northern Alliance, which controls about 10 percent of Afghan territory, is ready to participate in an international response against those linked to the attacks in the United States. He said the front, which has been fighting Taliban forces for nearly five years, is best situated to go after terrorist bases and apprehend Osama bin Laden.

Despite the representative's comments, it is not clear what state the Northern Alliance's military forces are in following the assassination of its legendary commander Ahmad Shah Massoud on 9 September.

Farhadi told a news conference yesterday that it is useless to plan any air strikes against the Afghan capital, Kabul, or Kandahar -- both controlled by the Taliban. He appealed instead for military support for the Northern Alliance, which he says could mount a force of up to 30,000 to fight terrorists inside Afghanistan.

"We know the country. We know where Mr. bin Laden can hide. We know also the psychology of people and we know, specially, that on any Taliban-held territory, there is a movement, there is an underground movement against the Taliban because the Afghan people are fed up with the Taliban."

Farhadi also called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss terrorism in Taliban-occupied parts of Afghanistan. And he urged the council to demand that Pakistan withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

The council during the past two years has imposed two sets of sanctions against the Taliban, including an arms embargo that took effect in January. A report by a UN group of experts this past spring said Pakistan is violating the embargo with extensive support of Taliban fighters. Pakistan denies this.

Pakistan is one of three countries that officially recognize the Taliban. The others are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. diplomatic efforts in the week following the terrorist attacks has focused on seeking Pakistan's influence in forcing the Taliban to turn over bin Laden. Farhadi said he is doubtful Pakistan can provide any serious assistance to the United States because of its close ties to the Taliban.

"We don't have confidence in Pakistan because Pakistan has been so much engaged in favor of the Taliban, in favor of the Taliban giving refuge and protection to Osama, that they would have difficulty to change their position."

Farhadi accuses Pakistan's military intelligence agency of deep involvement in setting up terrorist training bases in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's UN ambassador, Shamshad Ahmad, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the UN, Alison Grunder, said there will be no immediate U.S. comment about Farhadi's remarks.