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Taliban given three days to hand over bin Laden

On Saturday, Musharraf said Pakistan would "help the international community fight terrorism."  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani government, led by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, will ask the Taliban, Afghanistan's rulers, to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden in three days or face massive military action led by the United States, CNN learned Sunday.

In a move called "very encouraging" by a senior Bush administration official Sunday, a high-level Pakistani delegation is traveling to Afghanistan Monday to carry this message to the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in Kandahar.

And in New York, Afghan Ambassador to the U.N. Ravan Farhadi -- who represents the Northern Alliance, the anti-Taliban movement in Afghanistan -- said Sunday the Northern Alliance will make 15,000 troops available for any attack against Taliban-held Afghanistan.

Musharraf and President Bush Saturday night focused on the possibility of Pakistani cooperation.

Afghanistan under the Taliban  
CNN's Nic Robertson in Kabul on the Taliban's reaction to the U.S. attack
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CNN's Nic Robertson has more on the developments in Afghanistan after the attacks on the U.S. (September 12)

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Fearful Afghans race to borders  
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Statement from Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf  
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"We are not in any way expecting the Taliban response to be positive," the administration official said, "but it shows the degree to which Pakistan has decided to step up and publicly try to help us here."

Pakistan, one of only three countries that recognize the Islamic Taliban government, has already opened more lines of communication with the Taliban; one of the Taliban's special envoys is already in Islamabad discussing the same issue.

Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance -- the Afghan opposition in the northern part of the country -- questions the motives and will of Pakistan, which is seen as an enemy and an extension of the Taliban. The group says the best way to fight the Taliban is by closing the supply of arms from Pakistan to the Taliban.

Abdullah Abdullah, Northern Alliance foreign minister, told CNN he is "skeptical" of Pakistan's stand.

"We have been fighting against them, and they are getting stronger day by day. Terrorists from all over the world have joined them," Abdullah said. "There isn't a balance between our forces and the forces which the Taliban gather or terrorists, which are joining Osama in hundreds, if not thousands, every year."

Bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar "have gone secret," Abdullah said, "and we haven't been able to find out where they stay. But of course we understand they are in southern Afghanistan, in Kandahar province. ... This is as much as we know at this moment."

Abdullah said Pakistan should stop supplying the Taliban with arms and ammunition, and renounce its recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The alliance, which controls 5 percent of the country, buried its legendary leader Ahmad Shah Masood Sunday after his death from severe wounds suffered in an assassination attempt last week.

In Lahore, Pakistan, leaders from 42 of Pakistan's political parties met to discuss their opposition to Musharraf's cooperation with the United States.

The parties plan to deliver a message to the Pakistani president Sunday that they do not want the U.S. to use Pakistan's land, sea, or air in the event of a strike against neighboring Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has reiterated its position to fully back the international community to fight terrorism and, at the same time, has conveyed to the United States that it wants Washington to assist its economy.

It has also asked Washington to retire its $30 billion debt to international lenders. It also wants the United States to play a more active role in helping it solve the Kashmir problem with India.

According to sources, Pakistan has conveyed to Washington that it does not want Israeli or Indian participation in any military operation around or close to its borders.

Meanwhile, in Iran, leaders have been locked in long meetings to examine the developments in the United States and elsewhere in the wake of Tuesday's attack to draw up a strategy for dealing with the crisis.

On Saturday, Iran ordered security forces to close its 900 kilometer (559 mile) border with Afghanistan.

U.S. officials describing initial Iranian response to the attacks as "positive" has encouraged many in the country who feared Iran could be picked on as a possible target in President George W. Bush's war on terrorism.

Both hard-liners and moderates in Iran have strongly condemned the attacks on innocent lives, expressing sympathy with the American people, although making no mention of the U.S. government.

And in the U.S., officials have gone on the record, saying the United States would like to build on Iran's sympathetic response.

Iranian leaders have yet to make any statement on how they propose to position themselves.

And sources close to the government say up to 10,000 Afghans may have entered Iran in the past few days as fears grew of an imminent U.S. attack against targets in the country. Iran is already home to at least 2 million Afghan refugees who fled warfare in their country over the past 22 years.

In Tajikistan, the foreign ministry told CNN it denies reports that it would allow U.S. troops to take up positions in Tajikistan for possible military strikes on terrorist bases in neighboring Afghanistan.

The Interfax news agency is reporting that Russian troops of the 201st Division deployed in Tajikistan have been placed on higher alert, "taking into account the developing situation in the region."

The Russian foreign minister could not confirm the report, which quotes the Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Tajikistan has thousands of forces on the border between the two countries. Russian forces also are on the border and some have speculated that Tajikistan and Russia might allow the United States to launch operations from there.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry dismisses that speculation as "rumors."

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