Pakistani emissaries who traveled to Afghanistan Friday say the Taleban has again rejected U.S. demands to turn over alleged terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. This is the second time Pakistan tried and failed to persuade Taleban leaders to surrender the suspected terrorist.
Members of the government-sponsored delegation from Pakistan held a series of meetings with Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and other senior officials at their headquarters in Kandahar. Sources on both sides say more discussions may be held, but there was no indication the Taleban is prepared to comply with U.S. demands that they turn over alleged terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
One of the senior clerics in the Pakistani delegation, Mufti Mohammed Jamil, later said the Taleban leader stood firm in his rejection of U.S. demands.
The chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), General Mehmood Ahmed, also took part in the daylong talks on Friday. General Mehmood led a high-ranking delegation to Afghanistan nearly two weeks ago that failed to persuade the Taleban to surrender Osama bin Laden. President Bush says the Saudi fugitive and his al-Qaida organization are behind this month's attacks on New York and Washington.
Pakistan has promised to support any U.S. action aimed at bringing to justice those responsible for the terror attacks that is estimated to have killed more than 6,000 people. That policy has come under fire from hard-line Islamic groups in Pakistan who support the Taleban.
The latest delegation also passed a message to Taleban leaders from Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, requesting that the eight foreign aid workers being held by the Taleban be released. The aid workers, two Americans, four Germans and two Australians, were arrested recently for preaching Christianity, a crime under Taleban's interpretation of Islamic law.