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December 26, 1999
Taleban wants Flight 814 out of Afghanistan
The Taleban government of Afghanistan has termed the visit of the United Nations delegation to Kandahar a failure, and implied that India was prolonging the hostage crisis.
In an interview from New York to a private television channel, Taleban spokesman Maulvi Hakim Mujahed said: "We wanted the UN to mediate with the hijackers. That they didn't do. They only inspected the aircraft and the condition of the hostages."
His government, he continued, had expected New Delhi to respond positively. That too did not happen. "We were waiting for an Indian delegation to negotiate directly with the hijackers but it didn't arrive," he said.
Flight 814, meanwhile, is refueled and ready for take-off. The Afghanistan government, Maulvi Mujahed made it clear, wanted the plane out of its territory.
"We allowed it to land on the request of the Indian government. We thought we could do something to solve their problem," he said. "Our stand is that the hijackers can't stay in Afghanistan for long. Now it can leave anytime. We are telling the hijackers that they are not allowed in Afghanistan."
Asked whether his government has fixed a deadline for the flight to leave, Maulvi Mujahed said no, not yet.
"We want to cooperate with the Indian government," he said. "We were expecting an Indian delegation, but it didn't arrive."
The Taleban would welcome officials from New Delhi whether they came under the UN umbrella or independently. But the bottomline, the spokesman reiterated, was that Kabul wanted India to take charge of negotiations.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports from Kandahar say that the flight has developed an engine snag and would not be able to leave till that is put right.
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