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Target: Terrorism - Taliban Wants to see U.S. Evidence Against Osama Bin Laden

Aired October 3, 2001 - 06:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well let's go now to our Tom Mintier who is in Islamabad, Pakistan. Let's check in with him to see what the latest is from there.

Tom, as you know, as Secretary Rumsfeld here is on his way to the region, not to Pakistan this time around though.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Leon, he's not coming to Pakistan but someone else is. The Foreign Ministry here confirms to CNN that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be in Pakistan on Friday for a one-day visit. Now the details of the schedule haven't been released yet, but he's only going to be coming in in the morning and supposedly leaving in the afternoon.

Again, Prime Minister Blair gave a very, very stirring speech last night in the -- in the United Kingdom, one that was listened to around the world basically telling the Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden or surrender power. Also some very strong messages and some reassuring messages at the same time to the Afghan people that this was not a means of punishing the Afghan people but going after those who committed the act of terror and punishing them.

Also here in the region, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan was speaking out in Quetta last night, a very surprising comment, not so much what he said but the way he said it. He said it in English, which was the first time we've heard him use the English language basically on camera. Off camera, I had a half hour meeting with him on the 12th of September which was conducted all in English but he says he prefers to speak in his language when he's conducting the business of his country and he usually does it through a translator at a press conference. But last night the message was direct that the Taliban wants to talk to the United States and they want to see the evidence against Osama bin Laden before any possible military action takes place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULLAHA ABDUL SALAM ZAEEF, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN: If Osama bin Laden is in war in this option, we need to something which is the evidence, which is the proof on Osama bin Laden to talk on this option. Unfortunately, the President Bush denied that again and again in here standoff on the attack on Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MINTIER: While the language may be different, the message seemed to be the same. Something in recent days the Taliban ambassador has been calling for to see the evidence against Osama bin Laden saying that the evidence first and then talk about the future of Osama bin Laden but never agreeing directly that they might hand him over. So we have heard from the Taliban's ambassador here to Pakistan.

I also should point out that it's the only place, Leon, where they have an embassy anymore. There are no representations in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. They've already closed down. So the last window that is open or small crack in the door is from here in Pakistan where the Taliban still has an embassy.

HARRIS: Well, Tom, let me ask you -- I'm changing gears here -- let me ask you about the refugee situation. We've been talking about that quite a bit. With the speech made by Mullah Omar yesterday, is any sense as to whether or not that sort of talk is going to actually accelerate the flow of refugees out of there?

MINTIER: Well, I think it could give people cause for concern. Basically you know getting caught and accused of treason because you might want to see the former king return and bring peace to Afghanistan -- so I think it might make a lot of people very uneasy and make them think twice about staying behind.

There is a grave concern here in Pakistan that if they have over a million people approaching their borders, the borders which, by the way, are closed right now. And the UNHCR has been negotiating with the Pakistani government to convince them that indeed if there is military action, they could open their borders and allow people to come through and be resettled in the border areas in new refugee camps. They've looked at over a hundred sites trying to find a place. There have been cargo flights for the past week bringing in tarpaulins, tents and supplies and things like that -- Leon.

HARRIS: Tom Mintier reporting live for us this morning from Islamabad, Pakistan, thank you.

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