The group of Pakistani clerics said there was no discussion of handing over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. Instead, they said, the group discussed how to prevent war and signed an agreement to hold further meetings.
“Osama bin Laden was not a subject of our discussion,” Mufti Mohammad Jameel, a member of the 10-member delegation, told Reuters. “We only discussed how war could be prevented. They told us they don’t want war.”
The Taliban has been under pressure from the United States and much of the world to hand over Saudi-born fugitive bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Yesterday, Afghanistan’s religious clerics delivered an edict to the suspected mastermind of the attacks asking him to leave the country on his own time.
According to the statement from the delegation of Pakistani clerics, members of the Taliban and its leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, the meeting addressed “the U.S. threats of attack on Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and views were exchanged on various proposals to solve the matter.”
Pakistan is the only remaining government with diplomatic relations to the Taliban. They originally aided Taliban efforts to gain power of the neighboring country in 1996 and have opposed any action by the United States that could force the Taliban out of power.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. and British special forces have been conducting scouting missions in Afghanistan in preparation of possible military action, a top U.S. administration official said.
The official, however, denied reports that the forces are in search of bin Laden.