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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Taliban Surrender Konduz, To Leave By Sunday

Aired November 22, 2001 - 07:02   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: Let's go now to the war zone, where a major Taliban surrender agreement has just been announced. The city of Konduz, which is the Taliban's last stronghold in northern Afghanistan, is the focus of the new agreement.

Our Allessio Vinci joins us now by video phone. He's in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where the negotiations have been going on. He brings us now this breaking news -- Allessio?

ALLESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Leon. Here in Mazar-e-Sharif we are about five hours drive away from the front line in Konduz. However, it took Northern Alliance commanders only a couple of hours last night and a couple of hours this afternoon to convince Taliban leaders in Konduz to lay down their weapons. There was a meeting here that took place a couple of hours today. The Taliban assistant defense minister, Mullah Faizal, has arrived here last night. He has spent two hours with the Northern Alliance commanders. He has left here an hour ago and just a few minutes ago the top Northern Alliance commander, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, has announced that Mullah Faizal has agreed to surrender all of his troops by Sunday.

Now, what it means, by all of its troops is not just the Afghan Talibans who are fighting in Afghanistan, but also the so-called foreign fighters, the Chechens, the Pakistanis and the Kashmiri fighters who have been fighting on behalf of the Taliban here in Afghanistan.

Mr. Dostum, General Dostum said that this surrender will have to take place by Sunday. He said he will himself travel to Konduz on Saturday. The way the details about how this agreement was reached are not known. However, what we know is how the surrender will take place, and that is that all of those Taliban fighters who have agreed to lay down their weapons will be brought back here to Konduz to be sorted out, meaning that all the Afghan Talibans will be allowed to return home, will receive an amnesty, and all the so-called foreign fighters will have to be arrested and tried according to the laws of the Islamic, of the laws of Afghanistan.

Mr. Dostum, General Dostum also said that he will move as many as 5,000 troops from Mazar-e-Sharif to Konduz to ensure that the handover goes smoothly and also to fight any kind of resistance that those hard core foreign fighters may put up in the end, by Sunday night, if those, they do not decide to lay down their weapons -- Leon. HARRIS: Allessio, can you give us any idea or have you heard anything about what exactly was the breakthrough here? Because we know that those so-called foreign Taliban fighters there were the hardliners who were refusing any idea of surrender here. What was it that actually made the breakthrough in these negotiations?

VINCI: Well, it's difficult to say at this time. It might be a little bit too early. I do believe, however, that what might have been a breakthrough is the fact that there was an amnesty for the Taliban fighters and this is, of course, the face saving measure for the Taliban commanders in Konduz who have put up a stiff resistance for the last couple of days in that northern Afghanistan town.

The other thing is, Leon, is that Mullah Faizal has told us yesterday when we briefly spoke to him that he has direct control over all of the fighters, including the so-called foreign fighters, and therefore he is confident that all of the fighters, including the foreign fighters, will give up their weapons.

Nevertheless, General Dostum is sending 5,000 troops to Konduz to make sure that that will happen -- Leon.

HARRIS: And, of course, we'll have to wait and see if it does actually happen.

Allessio Vinci, thank you very much. Good job breaking that news for us this morning from Mazar-e-Sharif.

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