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Friday, 29 June, 2001, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
US 'warns Taleban over bin Laden'
US embassy Nairobi, after bomb
The US says bin Laden bombed two African embassies
The ruling Taleban in Afghanistan say the United States has warned them that it will hold them responsible for any attack on US interests by the Saudi-born militant, Osama bin Laden.

The Taleban said the warning came during an hour-long meeting between the US ambassador to neighbouring Pakistan, William Milam, and the Taleban's own representative there, Abdul Salam Zaeef.

Mr Zaeef repeated that the Taleban would not allow Mr bin Laden to use Afghan soil to launch attacks on US targets.

Osama bin Laden
The Taleban maintain bin Laden is a guest
There has been no confirmation of the meeting by the Americans, who last week put US forces in the Gulf on maximum alert after the threat of an imminent attack.

Correspondents say Washington will want to step up pressure on the Taleban at a time when there have been warnings of possible attacks by Mr bin Laden and his supporters.

"The American ambassador expressed his concern about Osama attacking American interests," Mr Zaeef said. "He said the US would blame the Taleban government if Osama attacked any US interests."

Taleban assurance

Mr Zaeef said he assured Mr Milam that although Mr bin Laden has been given sanctuary, the Taleban would not allow him to mount any attacks against US targets from their territory.

Washington accuses Mr bin Laden of being behind the bombing of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya East Africa in 1998, and of an attack on a destroyer, the USS Cole, in Yemen, last year.

The United States launched cruise missile attacks against alleged training camps run by Mr bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 soon after the embassy bombings.

Several people were killed by the US attacks but Mr bin Laden escaped injury.

Sanctions imposed

The US has offered a $5m reward for his capture.

Washington has been angered by the Taleban's sheltering of Mr bin Laden and has orchestrated the imposition of UN sanctions against the movement in an effort to force them to hand over the Islamic militant.

But the sanctions, which include restrictions of Taleban officials abroad and an arms embargo against their forces, have produced no change in the Taleban position that he is a guest.

They maintain Washington has produced no proof Mr bin Laden was involved in the alleged attacks.

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See also:

23 Jun 01 | Middle East
US Gulf forces on high alert
29 May 01 | Americas
How the US became a target
01 Jun 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama bin Laden?
18 Jun 01 | South Asia
More arrests in 'Bin Laden plot'
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