Afghan president says bin Laden not in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 25 December 2007 15:52 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The world's most wanted terrorist and the head of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, Osama bin Laden, is not hiding in Afghanistan, the president of the Islamic republic said Tuesday.

"Osama bin Laden is not in Afghanistan and the country is not a hotbed of terrorism," Hamid Karzai said a day before starting an official visit to Pakistan, where he plans to discuss bilateral relations and security in the region.

In the past few years, Pakistani tribal areas have seen an influx of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants from neighboring Afghanistan.

The terrorist group al-Qaeda is blamed for the 9/11 attacks in the United States, as well as dozens of terrorist attacks the world over. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill two weeks ago increasing the reward for anyone helping to capture bin Laden to $50 million.

The bill, called Justice for Osama Bin Laden and Other Leaders of al-Qaeda, reads: "The Secretary shall authorize a reward of $50,000,000 for the capture or death or information leading to the capture or death of Osama bin Laden."

At the same time the U.S. defense spending bill for 2008, set at $696 billion, was approved (370-49) with $189 billion going to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.