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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Taleban 'turn on ex-minister'
The hardline Islamic Taleban movement is reported to have disowned its former foreign minister in Afghanistan, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil.

Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil
Mutawakil - his aides say he was invited to join the Karzai government
The current government of President Hamid Karzai says it is considering whether to hold talks with Mr Mutawakil, the most senior Taleban to have been held in US custody.

There continue to be conflicting reports on Mr Mutawakil's whereabouts and whether he has been set free by the US.

Recently President Karzai repeated an offer of an amnesty for all Taleban members deemed not to have innocent blood on their hands.

'No accurate information'

A spokesman for Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told the BBC Pashto service on Tuesday that Mr Mutawakil "does not represent our will".

He said the Taleban's struggle would continue.

Mr Mutawakil has been traditionally seen as a moderate member of the Taleban which has been increasingly active in south-east Afghanistan in recent months.

Mullah Mohammad Omar
Taleban head Mullah Omar reportedly fell out with Mr Mutawakil

He surrendered to US forces some months after the US-led operation to oust the Taleban began in October, 2001.

Recent days have seen a wave of reports and denials about Mr Mutawakil's status.

On Tuesday a spokesman for President Karzai, Jawid Ludin, seemed unsure himself as to Mr Mutawakil's whereabouts.

"I have no accurate information," he told the BBC Persian service.

On Monday Mr Ludin appeared to confirm earlier reports saying that Mr Mutawakil had been released from detention at the US airbase at Bagram, near Kabul.

But he has now told the BBC that: "So far as we understand he is still under arrest and not yet released."

"I don't know if he is in Kandahar or Bagram," Mr Ludin said.

However other reports say he is under US protection at the Kandahar airbase, fearing attack from his former Taleban comrades.

The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai says Mr Mutawakil's aides have all along claimed that the US military authorities made two offers to Mr Mutawakil while he was in their custody at the Bagram airbase.

They say he was invited to join the Karzai government as a spokesman and adviser to the Afghan president or to seek political asylum in a Western country.

Though the US government has refrained from commenting on the issue, Mr Mutawakil's colleagues say the offers are still valid.

They believe Mr Mutawakil would like to stay away from Afghan politics for the time-being and would prefer asylum in an Arab country.

Confusion over 'freed' Taleban figure
08 Oct 03  |  South Asia
US interrogates Taleban minister
09 Feb 02  |  South Asia
Profile: Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil
09 Feb 02  |  South Asia
Nato 'agrees wider Afghan force'
06 Oct 03  |  South Asia
US steps up Afghan assault
01 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Afghanistan 'out of control'
10 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Country profile: Afghanistan
22 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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