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Pakistan: Evidence exists to indict bin Laden

Riaz Mohammad Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign office.
Riaz Mohammad Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign office.  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan says it believes the United States has credible evidence linking prime terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terror attacks.

A foreign ministry spokesman says evidence presented by Washington is enough for an indictment in a court of law.

"We have seen the material that was provided to us by the American side yesterday," foreign office spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told a press briefing. "This material certainly provides sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law."

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan met with President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday and laid out details of the investigation.

Significant move

Musharraf had already pledged full support for the U.S. campaign against terrorism, which is focusing on its neighbor Afghanistan, and the ruling Taliban who are sheltering bin Laden.

Although NATO and Western countries have issued similar statements, Pakistan's declaration is significant because no other Muslim country has taken such an unequivocal stand on the issue of bin Laden's possible role in the attack.

For years, Pakistan has been the chief backer of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia, which has refused to hand over bin Laden, citing a lack of evidence against him.

Pakistan has sent two delegations to the Taliban since the attacks to try to persuade them to hand over bin Laden and avert crippling U.S. attacks.

Blair to meet Musharraf

The news came just after sources at the Pakistani Ministry of Information told CNN that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet Musharraf during a four-hour visit on Friday afternoon.

The Islamabad press also reported there was a possibility that Blair and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan would meet.

Local newspapers speculated in front-page articles that the British prime minister might hold a meeting with the Taliban ambassador, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef.

Because of the lack of television in Afghanistan, it is possible the Taliban militia may not have heard Blair's strongly worded speech delivered Tuesday to his ruling Labour Party conference in Brighton, England.

In the address, Blair warned the Taliban to turn in Islamic militant bin Laden and his followers or face military strikes aimed at the country's infrastructure and military hardware. He blamed bin Laden for the September 11 U.S. attacks that left thousands of people dead or missing.

"Surrender the terrorists or surrender your power," he said, referring to the military targets as "the machinery of terrorism."

The United States has also accused bin Laden of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.


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