Taliban Welcome Pakistani Stand Over Feared US Strikes
The Afghan Taliban Sunday welcomed a Pakistani foreign minister's statement that Islamabad would not permit violation of its airspace for attacks on alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
"We welcome the Pakistani statement and we are confident that our other neighbors would also adopt a positive and sovereign policy," the Afghan Islamic Press quoted Taliban spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen as saying.
"Afghanistan is like the heart of Asia and any disruption in the country would destabilize the region," the spokesman told the Pakistan-based private news service from the Islamic militia's southern Kandahar base.
Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told reporters in Karachi on Saturday "Pakistan has not allowed the use of its airspace (for US attacks) in the past nor will it allow (it) in the future."
Satter however said at this stage he was not aware of any US decision to attack Afghanistan. "I have only read in the newspapers about the possibility of any such attack," he said.
"There are universal laws to protect and respect the airspace of each country and the world community is well aware of the recognized principles," he said.
US investigators have not ruled out the possibility that bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi dissident, living as the Taliban's "guest" in Afghanistan could be behind the October 12 blast in Yemen that killed 17 sailors aboard the USS Cole.
The US launched a cruise missile attack at suspected camps in Afghanistan after the August 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed 224 lives.
The hardline Taliban militia which controls most of the country has refused to extradite bin Laden to stand trial in the United States.
Pakistan along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is among the three countries to have recognized the Taliban rule -- ISLAMABAD (AFP)
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