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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 22:51 GMT
Taleban upset at embassy closure
Visitors to Taleban embassy
The embassy will no longer receive visitors
The Taleban ambassador to Pakistan has expressed disappointment at Islamabad's decision to close down his embassy - the Taleban's last diplomatic outpost.

The ambassador, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told the BBC that the move would complicate aid efforts in Afghanistan by making contacts with international organisations more difficult.

But he said he would stay in Islamabad for the time being because of the difficult situation in Afghanistan.

The decision to shut down the embassy in Islamabad was announced by a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman, Aziz Ahmad Khan.

Taleban consulates in Quetta and Peshawar were closed earlier this week.

The move to close the Islamabad embassy came after the US said it didn't see any reason for it to remain open.

Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognise the Taleban when they took power in Kabul - but in recent weeks it has scaled down its contacts with the Islamic militia.

'Deserted'

An official source, quoted by the French AFP news agency, said Pakistani Foreign Minster Abdul Sattar told the cabinet of the decision on Wednesday.

Taleban ambassador
Ambassador Zaeef: Gave news conferences

The Pakistani authorities say the embassy officials and staff will be given a reasonable time to wind up their affairs.

Mufti Yousuf, an official at the embassy, told the Associated Press that they had stopped issuing visas and ended all other operations.

The embassy was reported to be deserted by noon (local time), although the Taleban's white flag could still be seen flying from the premises.

After the war on Afghanistan began, the ambassador, Abdul Salam Zaeef, gave regular briefings to local and foreign media.

Ally lost

On Monday, Islamabad announced for the first time since the current crisis began that it no longer had any relations with its old ally in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told journalists then that although they had not formally announced a severing of relations with the Taleban, this did not mean they continued to recognise them.

Pakistan's support for the US-led war in Afghanistan means that Islamabad has had to distance itself from the Taleban, with whom it once had very close relations.

The collapse of Taleban rule has left Islamabad without any influence in Kabul and raised fears of serious instability along its border with Afghanistan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad
"Pakistan was the Taleban's strongest supporter, they have their roots here"
Taleban ambassador in Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef
"We will survive the war"
See also:

22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan warns against revenge killings
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Military attaches head for Kabul
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan closes Taleban consulates
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan's Taleban ties dissolve
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan concern at Kabul's fall
07 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Pakistan's vested interests
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