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Pakistan Studies Terror Evidence - 2001-10-03

Pakistani officials say they are studying evidence given to them by U.S. officials related to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. Meanwhile, U.N. officials in Pakistan say food relief convoys have resumed regular service to Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials confirmed on Wednesday that they have received evidence from the United States linking alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization with the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 6,000 people last month. The disclosure came one day after Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf held a lengthy meeting with U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin.

Officials from a number of key U.S. allies such as France, have said they believe the evidence backs up U.S. claims that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network were behind the attacks. In Islamabad, Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan told reporters it is too early to say if Pakistani officials are convinced that the evidence is conclusive.

"Until yesterday, we had not received anything," said Mr. Khan. "How do you expect us to be convinced of anything if we were not given any particular material in terms of evidence. And this is a statement of fact a statement of fact. Now we have received some material and we are examining it. So how do you want us to jump the gun, how do you want us to reach a conclusion before we have seen anything."

Mr. Khan refused to confirm reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Islamabad in the next few days.

He also says Pakistan will continue with its close ties with the Taleban but also seek national reconciliation in Afghanistan, saying if a delegation from exiled Afghan King Zahir Shah were to travel to Islamabad, such a move would be considered "a positive development."

Meanwhile U.N. officials say relief convoys have arrived in Kabul with more than 2,000 tons of food. The first relief shipments in more than two weeks began late last week and U.N. officials say their fears of security problems have not come true. U.N. officials say they plan to try and begin deliveries of 55,000 tons of food a month to Afghanistan enough to feed six million people and prevent a massive flow of refugees heading for Afghanistan's borders.