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Pakistan to send new delegation to Afghanistan

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been working hard to convince Pakistanis that he is right to support the United States.  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan will send a new diplomatic delegation to Afghanistan in the hope of persuading the Taliban government to cooperate with the international community, a government official said Thursday.

The official said Pakistan wants to make one last effort to convince the Taliban that they should turn over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

In Kandahar, a Taliban official said he understood that Pakistan would send two groups to Afghanistan, a group of diplomats and a group of clerics.

The Taliban official said he understood they would travel to Afghanistan on Friday, but Pakistani officials could not confirm the schedule.

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The United States has demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden, whom President Bush has called the prime suspect in the terror attacks on Washington and New York, or face a U.S. attack. Taliban leaders have so far refused.

The Pakistani official told CNN the government wants to "satisfy the conscience of the Pakistanis that they have done everything possible."

Previously, a high-level Pakistani delegation delivered a letter to Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel from Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, that warned that the Taliban should turn over bin Laden or face military action from the United States.

Pakistan has found itself in an awkward position as it tries to cope with the political, military and humanitarian crisis building in the region. It remains the only country to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with the regime.

Musharraf has promised to cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorism, including sharing intelligence information and allowing the use of Pakistani airspace by U.S. aircraft.

But the use of Pakistani military bases could be problematic. Only as a last resort would Pakistan likely allow the United States to station equipment and troops inside the country.

Many hard-line Muslims in Pakistan support Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and have protested Musharraf's decision to cooperate with the United States.

Pakistan's largest Islamic party issued a fatwa, or religious legal ruling, Monday saying its members will start a holy war if U.S. troops enter the country. The Jamiat Ulema Islam party received 5 percent of the vote in the last Pakistani national elections.


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