Tags: U.S. | Military | Buildup | Continues

U.S. Military Buildup Continues

Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM

Following the UAE's decision, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the only two countries that recognize the Taleban. Western reporters who were told to leave Kabul Saturday described it as a city of fear bracing itself to bear the brunt of America's wrath for refusing to hand over Saudi born militant Osama bin Laden, Washington's main suspect in the devastating Sept 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, in which over 6,000 people are missing and feared dead.

The Taliban, which controls 95 percent of Afghanistan, is widely believed to be harboring bin Laden and members of his Muslim extremist organization al Qaida, and its leadership council has refused U.S. demands to hand over the alleged terrorist leader.

As the thousands of Afghans tried to flee the country, the situation at Afghanistan's 1,560-mile border with Pakistan became more explosive. On Saturday scuffles broke out between groups of angry refugees and Pakistani frontier guards who refused to let them cross.

In Pakistan itself, four people died in Karachi when pro-Taliban demonstrators clashed with police in protests against the Pakistani government's alignment with the United States.

Pro-Taliban fundamentalists said they would stage further demonstrations Saturday, but observers noted that the daily protests were not as large as officials had feared. Islamic fundamentalists were a small, though aggressive, group in Pakistan, but could still cause problems for self-proclaimed President Pervez Musharraf in the event of a U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

In Washington, President George W. Bush held a council of war Saturday at Camp David, the Maryland presidential retreat, with top military advisers and his national security adviser Condoleeza Rice. More U.S. war planes are being sent to bases and aircraft carriers in close proximity to Afghanistan to join the estimated 350 planes already in the region. But the Pentagon refused to comment on a Taliban claim Saturday that they shot down an unmanned spy plane in Northern Pakistan. Abdul Salaam Zaeff, the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, conceded that it was not clear what country the plane was from.

As the U.S. diplomatic offensive to galvanize international support for an operation against Osama bin Laden and global terrorism in general continued, White House sources said Bush had a 45-minute telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The conversation was described as part of the administration's continuing contacts with the Russian leadership on the U.S. anti-terrorist offensive.

China dispatched Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan to Washington Friday where he pledged support for the United States. Tang told the State Department that Beijing dropped earlier pre-conditions linking Beijing's participation on U.S. concessions in Tibet and Taiwan. The Chinese, who have their own problems with militant Islamic fundamentalists, are sending a delegation of counter-terrorism experts to Washington next week to further hammer out specific ways the two countries can cooperate.

The mounting tension in Central Asia did not deter Pope John Paul II from making his scheduled four-day visit to predominantly Islamic Kazakhstan and Armenia - his sixth visit to a former country of the Soviet Union. Despite security fears following last week's terrorist attacks, Pope John Paul insisted that his trip should go ahead exactly as planned.

Kazakhstan borders on several Central Asian countries which could be caught up in U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan. "Today like no other there is need for dialogue between the Muslim and Christian worlds," he said on arrival. Without referring directly to the current situation, the pope said, "conflicts must be resolved not by force, but by peaceful negotiation and dialogue." Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Following the UAE's decision, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the only two countries that recognize the Taleban. Western reporters who were told to leave Kabul Saturday described it as a city of fear bracing itself to bear the brunt of America's wrath for refusing to hand...
U.S.,Military,Buildup,Continues
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2001-00-22
Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM
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