Tags: Bush | Presses | Taliban | Hand | Over | Bin | Laden

Bush Presses Taliban to Hand Over Bin Laden

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

"I would strongly urge the Taliban to turn over the al Qaida organizers who hide in their country," Bush said, referring to bin Laden's organization during an Oval Office meeting with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the first leader of a Muslim country to visit the White House since last week's attacks.

"The mission is to root out terrorist activities, and there's a variety of ways in which that can happen," the president said. "Clearly, one of our focuses is to get people out of their caves - smoke 'em out, and get 'em moving, and get 'em. That's about as plainly as I can put it.

"We recognize that the al Qaida organization exists in some 60-plus countries."

Earlier, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer ruled out negotiating with the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan over the fate of bin Laden.

"The president's message to the Taliban is very simple: It's time for action, not negotiations," said Fleischer, repeating calls on the Taliban to hand over Saudi exile bin Laden.

Fleischer said the White House wanted the Taliban to "take the actions necessary to no longer harbor terrorists - whatever form that takes."

Fleischer's comments marked the second rebuff the administration has delivered in recent days to Afghanistan, where Taliban leaders have signaled some willingness to negotiate to avoid U.S. military strikes in retaliation for backing bin Laden.

But the Taliban overtures, sent in mixed signals from the Afghan capital of Kabul as Islamic clerics gathered to discuss the matter, have fallen well short of anything acceptable to the White House.

Taliban officials have demanded to see proof of bin Laden's involvement in the attacks before considering whether to hand over bin Laden. The administration dismissed the offer, saying disclosure of its proof of bin Laden's involvement would jeopardize intelligence efforts.

Fleischer also pointed to evidence gathered against bin Laden in a previous indictment for the Saudi-born millionaire's alleged involvement in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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I would strongly urge the Taliban to turn over the al Qaida organizers who hide in their country, Bush said, referring to bin Laden's organization during an Oval Office meeting with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the first leader of a Muslim country to visit...
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2001-00-19
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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