US skeptical over Bin Laden nuclear claims


The US Secretary of State said today that Washington is skeptical that Osama bin Laden has nuclear weapons.

Mr Powell also said he believed Bin Laden was still in Afghanistan contradicting Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel report yesterday that the Saudi-born militant had left the country.

"I think he is still in Afghanistan and that it is getting harder for him to hide," Mr Powell said.

In the same interview Mr Powell said he would not be introducing a new plan for Middle East peace in a speech this week billed as a major statement on the region.

Mr Powell said Israel and the Palestinians should stick to the terms of an existing ceasefire plan put forward by former US senator Mr George Mitchell.

"I am not introducing a new plan ... We have a plan, it's a solid plan. It's called the Mitchell committee report", Mr Powell said.