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Jackson: 'No present plans' to visit Afghanistan

Rev. Jesse Jackson
Rev. Jesse Jackson  

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he has "no present plans" to go to Afghanistan for discussions with the ruling Taliban regime, despite receiving a second invitation to travel there.

Jackson said Saturday that he decided against the trip after consulting with a "world body of religious leaders to evaluate the mission." The Taliban's rejection Friday of a diplomatic overture from neighboring Pakistan played a role in the decision, Jackson said.

"They are a logical bridge of communication," Jackson said. referring to the Pakistanis. "And yet, their appeals were turned down because there are some voices that choose to fight it out rather than think it out and resolve it."

Jackson called on the Taliban to release eight Western relief workers held on charges of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. He also said the Taliban should turn over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden for trial in front of an international tribunal, using a process similar to that employed to try Libyans accused of the 1998 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Jackson also credited President Bush with making "substantially sound moves" following the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The president, he said, has exhibited "restraint and reason and patience and persistence."


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