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Taliban Ambassador Addresses Press

Aired October 2, 2001 - 11:45   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: With that, I want take you as promised to Quetta, Pakistan. We're waiting now at this time for the Taliban Ambassador to Islamabad to brief reporters. We do not know the content of this briefing, but we do anticipate comments shortly, here. We will first here them in his native tongue and then later translated into English.

As we await for this, it should be reported and mentioned once again, earlier today, U.S. officials notifying many people that they have briefed, in person, Pakistan's President Previs Musharraf on the evidence the U.S. has collected so far, implicating what they say is Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Again, we're waiting now in Quetta, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan to begin his briefing today.

As one can imagine, communications sometimes are a bit difficult from half way around the world. But these briefings have been quite, quite chock full of information over the past three weeks. And the Taliban, over the weekend, indicating that it does not know at this time -- with that, I will be quiet. We will listen now in Quetta.


ABDUL SALAM ZAEEF, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR TO Pakistan: ... the community of journalism, and we want to explain, where you and we should talk about the current situation in Afghanistan, and the pressure -- hard pressure -- from the foreign countries, especially from the Americans in this time.

We would like to explain what is the right and what is the wrong (ph), and what is good and what is bad. We know that some people in some countries are trying to impose their will (ph) on Afghanistan, and some countries wanted to start this bad thing against good thing. We are prepared to the negotiation and the feasible (ph). We are not following the war instead of negotiation.

The starting of war is not simple or not easy. This has very bad result and very bad future.

ZAEEF: Afghanistan is the country which saw more than two decades war, and also it saw a very long famine and drought situation, which is very danger to the life of people in this world if we join these with these two bad things and with this, for country, this will be increased, these problems, not decreased.

We will find lots of problems for the people, for the country, for the reason. We are and were people -- all the Afghan people -- they are ready for, they need to have health, they need to have food, they need to have shelter, they need to have the good life and the reconstruction, rebuilding of country, not need to have war, not need to have any bad thing.

We call on the countries which claim -- which have claimed that Afghanistan is not helping with terrorism, with terrorism activities. We are not agree with that because Afghanistan has and had terrorism. Afghanistan lost more than 2 million people martyr and did sacrifice endured, more than 3 million people and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) more than 6 million people.

We are the first country to come to this incident and this event which happened in America. We were the first country. We condemn the terrorism and terrorism activities. But we need evidence. We need to have proof which is the good real part of solving of problems, which is the good way (UNINTELLIGIBLE) finish of these problems.

Unfortunately, we (ph) respond (ph) to this question, and the answer to the question is negative. And they (ph) only want to surrender and hand over Osama bin Laden to America, say nothing about other rules, say nothing about the other world which is closed -- opened for the negotiation, which is opened for the talk, which is the real part of the solving of problems.

We call all the people, all the countries to come negotiation, to come to the peaceful, and we are part of the world and we are part of this world. We are happy to help with the people. We are happy to help with any work, with any action which is for the peaceful and this is worldwide, please convey these words to all the world and thank you.

QUESTION: Ambassador, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said they asked you to surrender Osama bin Laden. Are you going to surrender him?

ZAEEF: Surrender, this is not the new way and this not the new thing. We want justice. We want justice. We don't want to surrender that without any proof, any evidence. Where is the evidence? Where is the proof? We cannot able to do that.

QUESTION: The United States provided direct evidence...

ZAEEF: Not to us, not to us. We are the part of this issue. Not provide this evidence or not provide this proof to us.

ZAEEF: If we give him back to the other person, other countries (UNINTELLIGIBLE) belong with them (ph) not with us.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, during your meeting today with the British High Commissioner in Islamabad, did he make clear to you a timetable for military attacks?


QUESTION: When do you think (OFF-MIKE)

ZAEEF: What?

QUESTION: When do you think a military attack will happen?

ZAEEF: I don't know. You should ask them why they prefer an attack on Afghanistan than a negotiation, you can trust its not us (ph).

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, do you still know where Osama bin Laden is?

ZAEEF: I think he will be in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: But where in Afghanistan?

ZAEEF: I don't know exactly, because I am here, not in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Does the Taliban know? Does your government know?

ZAEEF: Some people, they should know, because they have the responsibility for the control of his activity. They should know where he's at, but I don't know exactly.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, is your appearance here tonight and your explanation of what you would like to see happen, is that because you and others have a real fear of the consequences?

ZAEEF: This is always (ph) -- only we want to convey this to the people, this message to all people, which (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they are working for humanitarian, for the peaceful, we are ready for peaceful negotiation (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the other part, agree or not this (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ZAEEF: The last time, in the invasion of Russia in Afghanistan, the fearful (ph) world wakened (ph) they don't have anything, and they fought with Russia for 10 years. All the things belong with Allah. We believe in Allah. We believe in Allah, that he will help us if they impose an attack on us and force the fight on us, and this is not shown how many times or how years, we came to defend or not, this would be (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he specifically said in his speech, and I quote, "Taliban will surrender the terrorists or surrender power, and we will build a trap around the Taliban."

ZAEEF: I am repeat that again, this is not the way of the solving (ph). If they want solving, they should start negotiation. If they are strong and standoff in this step, this will be not good. The result of this in the future will be very bad.

QUESTION: So when Mr. Blair says that your regime should be destroyed, what is your message to Mr. Blair? ZAEEF: Only one, Allah knows that. And this is the definition of his mind, for the evils and for the will and will fear. And this all the things belong with Allah. Allah only change the regime, and only Allah bring the other regime instead of that.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, are you willing to negotiate directly with the Americans and the British? And if so, where?

ZAEEF: Yes. Yes, yes, no problem. Any place that they want.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, there are rumors that the information minister, the information deputies, foreign minister and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) minister have not been seen for a few days, and they may have split (ph) with the Taliban?

ZAEEF: No. He is in Afghanistan. And I can talk with him today for many times. If they arrived from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this will be the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but he is in Afghanistan.


ZAEEF: No. This last (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is, which is in Afghanistan and to become (UNINTELLIGIBLE) destroyed, this was the activity of the Zahir Shah. For the second time, they cannot have any role in Afghanistan, I think.


ZAEEF: This is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of world enemies. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are no difference, no opposite (ph) between the Taliban. The Talibans, all the Talibans, they obey and they are comply to the order of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, is there any country to which you would consider handing over Osama bin Laden at this time?

ZAEEF: This is the way, belong with negotiation. This will be, maybe in some countries. At the moment, I can't...

QUESTION: So handing him over is negotiable?

ZAEEF: Only the way of negotiation is solving our problems, no other way.


ZAEEF: No, no, no. This is not the way to solving to the Americans. And we should discuss this issue and decide in this time what we can.

Thank you. Thank you.


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to Abdul Salam Zaeef the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan speaking with reporters in Quetta. Many times saying that they are open to negotiations but not nailing down any specifics as to when or where or with whom.

Also when asked if they would turn over bin Laden, the Taliban, he said -- quote -- "this is not the new way. Where is the evidence? Where is the proof?" All of this coming on the day that Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister delivered a stern message saying that they must cooperate at this time or face the possibility of imminent military strike. Something to watch not only in Pakistan and England but also here in New York and Washington, and we shall throughout the day here.




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