Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar has urged the international community to distance itself from the United States' campaign in Afghanistan, a militant spokesman said yesterday.
The call by the elusive hardline leader came after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates urged European nations in particular to be more involved in the fight against the Taliban.
"The United States has been defeated in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed quoted Omar as saying in a statement.
"They have been trapped here and are desperately trying to get other countries involved," Mujahed said in a telephone call from an unknown location.
Omar's statement said the United States, which led the campaign that toppled the Taliban from government in late 2001, had "invaded" and "occupied" Afghanistan.
"We're fighting to free our country," it said, adding: "We're not a threat to the world."
"The world nations must compel their governments to withdraw from Afghanistan and abandon supporting the United States."
The 1996-2001 Taliban government allowed Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and was toppled for not handing over Al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, after the 9/11 attacks.
Gates and others have been calling for more troops and resources to be sent to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force battling a Taliban-led insurgency that was its deadliest last year.
Omar said his militant group would intensify attacks on government and foreign military targets in the spring, the traditional Afghan fighting season.
It would also "establish relations with the world," said the statement attributed to the one-eyed militant who headed the Taliban regime.
Omar carries a multi-million-dollar bounty on his head but has avoided capture.
A senior US administration official said Friday he was in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta but this was rejected by Islamabad.