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Taliban seeks UN Aid

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban warns that the country faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

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Afghan refugee women in a tent camp near the village of Khwaja-Bahauddin in Takhar.

The Taliban has called on the United Nations (UN) and other agencies to help the thousands of refugees fleeing the US air strikes.

"We demand that the UN help the people of Afghanistan inside Afghan territory," Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. He pledged that the Taliban would cooperate with aid operations.

However, a UN spokeswoman said problems including harassment of its staff and lack of security were likely to hamper any assistance.

United Nations rejects bin Laden Condemnation

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (photo) rejected criticism from Osama bin Laden that the UN was anti-Muslim and had thrown its weight behind the US bombing of Afghanistan. In a videotaped statement broadcast on Saturday on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden had accused the world body of siding with the US.

A spokesman for Annan emphasized the universal nature of the UN and its values. Manoel de Almeida e Silva said Muslims should not be led astray by bin Laden's statements.

"The Secretary-General hopes they will understand that the United Nations is an expression of the will of all its Members," the spokesman noted. "The United Nations does not represent any particular culture, or the views of any single Member State."

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