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White House to Taleban: Hand Over Bin Laden - 2001-09-30

The White House is once again calling on Afghanistan's ruling Taleban to turn over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden. This, after Taleban officials announced the Saudi exile was under their control.

The Taleban says it wants to negotiate the fate of Osama Bin Laden. White House Chief Of Staff Andrew Card says no.

"We have told the Taleban government what they should be doing. They have got to turn, not only Osama Bin Laden over, but all the operatives of the al-Qaida organization. They have got to stop being a haven where terrorists can train and roam and do their dastardly deeds," said Mr. Card.

"During an appearance on the Fox News Sunday television program, Mr. Card used strong words to describe the Taleban movement. He said if it continue to help terrorists, it should be removed from power. But he stopped short of saying America's goal is to topple the Taleban.

"We are not about nation-building here. We are about ridding the world of terrorists, and making sure that no nation is a place where terrorists feel that they can get comfort and aid," he said.

Mr. Card was one of several top administration officials interviewed on one of the news programs that air Sunday mornings in the United States. On NBC's Meet the Press, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded to the latest statements from the Taleban about Osama bin Ladin with skepticism.

"Well of course," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "It was just a few days ago that they said they didn't know where he was. So, I have no reason to believe anything a Taleban representative would say."

While Secretary Rumsfeld is focusing on military planning, Attorney General John Ashcroft is overseeing the investigation into the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. He told the CBS program Face the Nation that the inquiry is wide, but Osama bin Laden remains the prime suspect.

"We want to follow this investigation where the evidence leads us. And the evidence clearly leads us to the roots of this operation in Afghanistan. But we don't want to indicate there couldn't have been participation by cooperatives and collaborators in a variety of different settings," Mr. Ashcroft said.

The attorney general said more than 500 people have been arrested or detained in connection with the investigation into the deadliest terrorist attacks ever on American soil.