Taliban Rejects U.N. Demand, Won’t Surrender Bin Laden ‘at Any Price’
Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders rejected a U.N. ultimatum to surrender suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and castigated the world body Saturday for threatening sanctions.
“We will never give up Osama at any price,” Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund, the Taliban’s foreign minister, said in a statement addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The U.N. Security Council announced Friday that it will impose limited economic sanctions on the Taliban Islamic movement, which controls about 90% of Afghanistan, if it does not hand over the millionaire Saudi exile by Nov. 14.
The resolution demands the militia deliver Bin Laden for trial in the United States or another able country on charges he masterminded the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people.
Akhund said a Taliban inquiry into U.S. allegations exonerated Bin Laden.
He said the United Nations has lost its credibility.
The Taliban has said before that it would not hand over Bin Laden because it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States and because Bin Laden, a guest in Afghanistan, was a veteran of the 1980s war against invading Soviet soldiers.
Akhund said the Taliban suggested talks between Saudi and Afghan clerics to find a solution. “But everyone has ignored us,” he said.