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Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK

World: South Asia

Taleban defies UN over bin Laden

Osama bin Laden looks at a map of Afghanistan

The Taleban administration in Afghanistan has responded defiantly to a decision by the United Nations to impose sanctions if it does not hand over the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden for trial.

The BBC's William Reeve: "It would appear the Taleban are as intransigent as ever"
The Taleban Foreign Minister, Mullah Mohammad Hassan, has written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accusing the Security Council of giving in to pressure from the United States.

Mullah Hassan said it was a misuse of a world forum such as the UN , and the Taleban would not surrender to the demands.

Mr bin Laden - who is accused by the United States of organising bomb attacks on American embassies - has taken refuge in Afghanistan and the UN Security Council has given the Taleban a month to extradite him.

The Taleban's representative to the UN told the BBC the movement's leadership had been ready to negotiate with the US and the Security Council was too hasty in imposing sanctions.

Abdulhakim Mujahid denied that the Taleban supported terrorism, and.said the UN resolution would add misery to the lives of the long-suffering people of Afghanistan.


The resolution was introduced by the US, which wants the Islamic fundamentalist leader to stand trial for planning last year's bomb attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

BBC's Mark Devenport: The vote was unanimous
Under the sanctions, scheduled to come into effect on 14 November, all bank accounts held by the Taleban abroad would be frozen, and flights by aircraft owned, leased or operated by the Taleban would be banned.

The resolution allows for exemptions to the flight ban for humanitarian reasons or to allow Afghan citizens to perform the religious pilgrimage to Mecca.

[ image: Osama bin Laden is portrayed as a 'Soldier of Islam' in Pakistan]
Osama bin Laden is portrayed as a 'Soldier of Islam' in Pakistan
Nancy Soderberg, a US representative at the UN, told the Security Council: "With the passing of the resolution today, the United Nations, and indeed the world community takes a courageous step in combating international terrorism.

"It sends a direct message to Osama bin Laden and terrorists everywhere: You can run, you can hide, but you will be brought to justice."

Ms Soderberg said the US had reliable evidence that Mr bin Laden's network was seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

Taleban want proof

The US has put pressure on the Taleban movement to hand over Mr bin Laden.

[ image: US strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan sparked protests in Pakistan]
US strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan sparked protests in Pakistan
But Taleban leaders have said they want proof of his involvement in terrorism before extraditing him.

The US says the Taleban has rejected more than 20 requests during the past year for him to be expelled or turned over for trial.

The US has already unilaterally banned US trade with and investment in Taleban-controlled areas of Afghanistan. The Islamic movement controls most of the country.

The draft UN Security Council resolution was drawn up by the US with support from Russia, which suspects Mr bin Laden of helping to finance Islamic rebels who are fighting federal troops in Dagestan.

US military strikes

The US has also offered a $5m reward for the capture of Mr bin Laden.

More than 200 people died in the two bomb attacks on the US embassies on 7 August 1998.

In response, the US launched cruise missile attacks against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.

The Afghanistan site was alleged to have been a training camp for Mr bin Laden's supporters.

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