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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:42 GMT
Pakistan reins in Taleban mouthpiece
Abdul Zaeef giving his daily press briefing
Mr Zaeef has given daily briefings about the US attacks
Pakistan has told the Taleban's main spokesman to stop criticising foreign governments during his press briefings.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told Reuters news agency that the Taleban's ambassador to Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef, had been called in on Tuesday and told "not to violate the third country rule".

Zaeef gets into a car after his meeting at the Pakistani Foreign Ministry
Mr Zaeef is the Taleban's only recognised ambassador

Mr Khan was referring to conventions that prevent diplomats from voicing attacks on other countries.

Mr Zaeef, who is the Taleban's only recognised ambassador, has been giving daily briefings to the press on the US-led attacks on Afghanistan.

Mr Zaeef has referred to bombing raids as "terrorism" and "genocide" and has made claims of civilian casualties which the US said were grossly exaggerated.

No ban

Pakistan's foreign ministry said there was no ban on Mr Zaeef speaking about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, or about the casualties of bombing attacks.

Folllowing the meeting, the Taleban embassy cancelled Mr Zaeef's Tuesday press conference and said there were no plans to hold one on Wednesday.

The development comes a week after the US and UK said they would set up a media centre in Pakistan to improve their propaganda campaign.

They feared that briefings like Mr Zaeef's were dominating the daily news agenda, turning Muslim opinion against the campaign.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has supported America's war against terrorism and has allowed the US access to Pakistani airspace and some air bases for its military strikes on Afghanistan, a move which has brought him under considerable domestic pressure.

Mr Zaeef this week criticised Islamabad, the only country that still recognises the Taleban, for refusing to allow all the Afghan refugees into Pakistan.

See also:

31 Oct 01 | South Asia
Pakistan sends back most needy Afghans
03 Nov 01 | South Asia
US scorns Taleban helicopter claim
01 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Media war goes to Pakistan
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Interview: Taleban ambassador Zaeef
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