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Afghanistan: World Leaders Weigh Diplomatic And Military Options

Prague, 28 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A delegation of Pakistani clerics and government officials arrived in the Afghan city of Kandahar today for talks aimed at ending the stand-off between United States and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. The U.S. has demanded the Taliban surrender Osama bin Laden -- who is suspected of masterminding the 11 September terrorist attacks in America.

Taliban officials have rejected the demand but say they have asked bin Laden to leave.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin spoke to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the phone about possible operations in Afghanistan. Prime ministers from 12 CIS states are also meeting in the Russian capital to discuss antiterrorism measures.

The presidents of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan spoke by telephone today to plan out measures for strengthening their borders with Afghanistan and cooperation in fighting terrorism. Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov agreed to improve cooperation between their law enforcement agencies and secure their borders with Afghanistan. Karimov and Rakhmonov discussed possible measures should extremists from Afghanistan attempt to break across the northern border.

The first planeloads of emergency United Nations food aid arrived in Pakistan today as aid agencies braced for a flood of refugees from neighboring Afghanistan. Two planes carrying 100 tonnes of high-protein biscuits arrived in the northern city of Peshawar.

Similar flights are headed for planned refugee sites along Afghanistan's western border with Iran and Turkmenistan to the north.

Refugees have been fleeing to Afghanistan's borders amid fears of possible U.S. military action against the country's ruling Taliban militia.

The U.N. says the unfolding Afghan situation is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.