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SAUDI ARABIA - Sept 24 - No Proof Bin Laden Is Dead.

Saudi Arabia says that it has no evidence that Osama bin Laden had died, shedding further doubt on a secret document leaked in France that said Saudi secret services believed the leader of Al Qaeda had died last month. France, the US and Britain have said they were unable to confirm the report in a French regional newspaper, L'Est Republicain, published in Nancy, that quoted France's foreign intelligence service as saying the Saudi secret services were convinced that bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan in late August. Time magazine separately posted an article on its Web site citing an unidentified Saudi source who claimed bin Laden had been stricken with a water- borne disease and might be dead. But the Saudi Embassy in Washington issued a statement saying: The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no evidence to support recent media reports that Osama bin Laden is dead. Information that has been reported otherwise is purely speculative and cannot be independently verified". On Sept 23, L'Est Republicain quoted an internal memo from France's foreign intelligence service, the DGSE, as saying: Saudi intelligence services seem to be sure that Osama bin Laden is dead. The elements gathered by the Saudis indicate that the head of Al Qaeda was the victim, while he was in Pakistan on Aug. 23, 2006, of a strong case of typhoid fever that led to a partial paralysis of his lower limbs". A senior French intelligence official confirmed that the document was authentic, but said the information was "absolutely, absolutely not verified". The official said the memorandum had been sent to the president, the PM and some ministries as a regular report on terrorism-related intelligence. President Jacques Chirac responded to questions from reporters by saying, "This information is in no way confirmed, in no way whatsoever, and I have no comment to make about it". "No comment, no knowledge", Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said when asked about the report. PM Tony Blair of Britain, who was asked in a BBC interview whether he could shed light on the report, said: No, I can't. I haven't heard anything that indicates that might be the case".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Sep 30, 2006
Words:359
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