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The public goal of Richardson’s mission is to broker a peace deal between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

An extremely rare moment of levity with the Taliban, in Kabul in 1998. Richardson visited the Taliban and their Northern Alliance enemies as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. (AP photo)

Privately, Richardson tried to convince the Taliban to expel bin Laden or extradite him to the United States, where he was indicted for his complicity in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.