Wednesday, September 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Top US official meets King Zahir
Northern Alliance seeks US military aid

Mohammad Zahir Shah (R), former king of Afghanistan is seen in his Rome residence
Mohammad Zahir Shah (R), former king of Afghanistan is seen in his Rome residence on Tuesday. The 86-year-old exiled king said in an interview he was ready to return to his country if he could be of use in the present crisis. 
— Reuters photo

Rome, September 25
Afghanistan’s former king today met the top US official in Italy as diplomatic activity intensified around the monarch, who aides say he wants to help his country find peace.

The US Charge d’Affairs, William Pope, requested the meeting with former King Mohammad Zahir Shah, and the two huddled at the monarch’s secluded villa on the outskirts of Rome for an hour, a spokesman at the US Embassy said.

It was the second top-level meeting in recent days for the normally reclusive Zahir, (86), who has lived in Italy since his 1973 ouster. On Sunday, he met the UN envoy for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell.

And he is awaiting a visit from members of Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. An aide to Zahid, Yusuf Nuristani, said today the opposition members’ arrival in Rome had again been delayed. He didn’t say when they were expected.

Vendrell and aides to Zahid have said the former king would be willing to play a role in Afghanistan. Vendrell said on Sunday that Zahid had no desire to return as monarch, but could help form a transitional government in the country if the Taliban are ousted.

The flurry of contacts came as the USA was preparing to retaliate militarily for the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

First Secretary of the Embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in Russia Ghairat Sakhi, addressing a press conference at Moscow today, said the Northern Alliance needed multi-lateral “political, information and technical support” from the USA which would guarantee the alliance’s victory over the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, fighting raged across northern Afghanistan on Tuesday as opposition forces, emboldened by the massive buildup of the US might aimed at the ruling Taliban, captured several villages in fierce overnight battles, an AFP report from Kabul said.

Opposition spokesmen said clashes flared in three provinces across the Taliban-held north of the country, near the borders with Uzbekistan, where the US forces are already believed to be based, and Tajikistan, which is guarded by thousands of Russian soldiers.

“The fighting continued the whole night and this morning,” opposition spokesman Mohammad Ashraf Nadeem told AFP from somewhere near the frontlines.

“Our forces have been advancing in the east of Sang Charak district,” he said, referring to an area 50 km north of Sar-i-Pul, a small provincial centre south of Balkh province bordering Uzbekistan. AP, UNI 


Don’t impose new govt: Pak

Islamabad, September 25
Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said today that the world should not try to impose a new government on Afghanistan if any US strikes result in the fall of the ruling Taliban movement

“We must not make the blunder of trying to force a government on the people of Afghanistan,’’ he said.

We fear any such decision on the part of foreign powers to give assistance to one side or the other in Afghanistan is a recipe for great suffering for the people of Afghanistan,’’ he told a press conference. Reuters


S. Arabia snaps ties with Taliban

Dubai, September 25
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan was further isolated ahead of a possible military action against the country when Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with it, leaving Pakistan the only country to recognise the militia government.

The Saudi Government’s decision followed three days after the United Arab Emirates severed its diplomatic ties with the Taliban saying that it has failed to persuade them to hand over terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to the USA.

“The Saudi Government announces that all relations with the Taliban are cut,” a statement released by official SPA news agency said in Riyadh. PTI


Differences in Bush Admn over war aims

Washington, September 25
Not just differences in nuance, but over goals have emerged within the Bush Administration as the US armed forces are readying to strike Afghanistan.

In a television appearances, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, believed to be closest to President Bush among all advisers, made it clear that the aim now was no less than the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.

In contrast, Secretary of State Colin Powell wants to limit the war aim to meting out justice to Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in terrorist strikes on the USA.

He had initially opposed the Gulf war, saying that economic sanctions could be tried first. PTI


Russia tips USA on Bin Laden

Washington, September 25
The USA has received Russian intelligence data on the whereabouts of Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who is hiding in Afghanistan and is believed to be the man behind the terror attacks on the USA.

According to a Novosti report, the NBC said the American side was satisfied with Russia’s intelligence sources in Afghanistan. The USA would rely on these sources when planning US task force operations whose units are already stationed near the Afghan border, the TV company stressed.

The USA would also receive intelligence from the Northern Alliance, the American officials said. UNI


G-7 ministers agree with Bush

Tokyo, September 25
A group of seven finance ministers today agreed to work together to cut off money supplied to terrorist groups and to cooperate in freezing their assets, Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said.

The G-7 ministers, at a conference, predicted no medium-term problems for the US economy stemming from the attacks in New York and Washington, although its recovery could be delayed, according to a source at the Italian treasury.

A senior Japanese Finance Ministry official said the ministers did not discuss a specific date for a G-7 meeting postponed from this Friday in Washington. Mr Shiokawa said the meeting would be held in the US Capital on October 6, but the official said afterwards this was only Mr Shiokawa’s view.

“We mainly discussed preventing funds from being provided to terrorist groups and exchanged views on the issue,’’ Mr Shiokawa told a news conference.

Mr Shiokawa said he expressed support for a decision by President George W. Bush on Monday to choke off money supply for Osama bin Laden, freezing his US assets and prohibiting transactions with other groups linked to his network and related organisations.

He said he explained to his G-7 counterparts Japan’s decision on Friday to ban financial transactions and money transfers to people linked to Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement. ReutersBack


Omar’s message to Americans

Islamabad, September 25
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar today accused the USA of committing “atrocities” against the Muslim world in a message to the American people, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

“The American people must know that the sad events that took place recently were the result of their government’s wrong policies,” he said, adding that the September 11 terrorist attacks were meant as revenge.

In a message delivered through the Pakistan-based private news agency, he defended alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and called on the people of the USA to consider their government’s “cruel policies”. AFPBack

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