WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld raised doubts Tuesday about whether the surrender of Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the attacks that slaughtered thousands of Americans one week ago, would be enough to avert a U.S.-led military campaign against terrorism.
"Clearly you begin on a journey with one step, and he would be one step," Rumsfeld said. But he added, "If bin Laden were not there the organization would continue doing what it's been doing. So clearly the problem is much bigger than bin Laden."
With President Bush plotting a military response against "those barbaric people" who attacked the United States a week ago, Taliban leaders in Afghanistan were reported Tuesday to be considering a proposal from Pakistan for the extradition of bin Laden to a third country -- under certain conditions.
A Pakistani government source said the conditions for a possible extradition deal, including international recognition of the Taliban government, were discussed in a meeting with Taliban leaders Monday but no agreement was reached and the Pakistani delegation was returning home later Tuesday.
In New York, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations said his country's delegation tried to convey the gravity of the moment to the Taliban. "I cannot predict at this stage what the outcome is going to be," Shamshad Ahmad said. "In our view it was worth making an effort through diplomatic engagement."
Asked on CBS' "The Early Show" whether the surrendering of bin Laden would be enough to avert a conflict, Rumsfeld said the problem is bigger than one man. "Bin Laden is one person who is unambiguously a terrorist," he said. "The al-Qaida network is a broad, multiheaded organization" with a presence in 50 to 60 countries, including the United States.
Before the Pakistani official spoke on the conditional offer, Taliban rulers were admonishing their countrymen in Afghanistan to prepare for a holy war against the United States. Bush was preparing America for conflict.
"This will be a different type of war ... a different type of enemy than we're used to," Bush said Monday as the nation simultaneously grieved for the victims of last week's attacks and groped toward a more normal workaday routine.
Administration officials gave no sign a military response was imminent, although Bush resorted to frontier-style language when he said he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive."
The Taliban call to arms came as a grand Islamic council in Afghanistan prepared to take up a demand from neighboring Pakistan to turn over bin Laden or face attack by the United States. U.S. officials have held out little hope the Taliban would eject bin Laden.
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