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November 4, 2001
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Mullah Omar in total control, says Taleban foreign minister

Tahir Khan in Kandahar

Taleban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was in total control of the affairs of the Afghan militia and was changing places because of security reasons, Foreign Minister Maulvi Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said on Sunday.

"Mullah Omar changes places due to security reasons. He effectively runs the affairs of the government and is in complete control," he told a group of reporters from Pakistan who were taken on a tour of Kandahar by the Taleban.

The system was being run like in the past and the imposed war had not affected the Taleban's organisational set-up, he said.

Muttawakil described as 'baseless' reports about differences within the Taleban and said some people had unleashed propaganda to please themselves. "Dreams of people who want to see a rift with the Taleban ranks will never be accomplished."

"The Americans have launched propaganda that Amir-ul-Momineen, (the title of Omar) had gone in hiding. I propose that (British prime minister) Blair and (US president George) Bush take Kalashnikovs and come to a specified place where Mullah Omar will also appear with a Kalashnikov. Then we will determine who runs," he challenged

Muttawakil also denied reports about his visit to Pakistan and said he had not left Afghanistan since the US strikes on October 7. There had been reports that he had visited Pakistan with plans to defect from the Taleban.

Asked if there was any possibility of negotiations to end the Afghan war, Muttawakil said the US had closed the doors for talks.

Replying to a question about Pakistan's support to the US campaign, he said the move proved that the Taleban were not the creation of Pakistan. "The Taleban are not puppets of anyone. They are ruling the country only with the support of the Afghan people."

PTI

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