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White House: 'No Negotiation' with Taliban

Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM

The White House maintained it would not negotiate with leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban regime, who they believe are harboring suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and members of his Muslim extremist organization al Qaida.

Federal authorities say bin Laden, already on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list in connection with the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, is responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in which at least 6,000 people were feared killed.

"The president made clear that there'd be no negotiations, no discussions about his conditions," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

President Bush made emphasized during a nationally televised address Thursday that he would not compromise with the Taliban regime and that diplomatic efforts would continue with foreign leaders to bring bin Laden to justice.

"Some people call it a government, some people call it a regime. I think for the purposes of defending America, it does not matter what it is called," Fleischer said. "If they harbor terrorists, the president's message is clear, we will defeat you."

Bush and his national security advisers believe bin Laden was responsible for the actions of terrorists who used two hijacked jetliners to crash into the World Trade Center in New York and a third into the Pentagon outside Washington.

A fourth hijacked airliner, which crashed outside of Pittsburgh, Pa, is believed to have been brought down by struggling passengers attempting to thwart the hijackers, who may have been heading for Washington.

The attacks were the worst-ever on U.S. soil with the expected civilian death toll surpassing military losses from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Bush was expected to end his week with a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan before leaving for the Maryland presidential retreat, Camp David.

Jiaxuan is the last in a parade of foreign leaders who traveled to the White House this week to express condolences for the nation's loss and voice support for the administration's campaign against terrorism.

Jiaxuan made a stop at the State Department as a Beijing spokesman released a statement denying reports that China had linked its support of the U.S. effort against terrorism to certain conditions.

"This evidently has seriously distorted the stand of the Chinese government, said spokesman Zhu Bangzao.

He went on to say: "The Chinese government is firmly opposed to all forms of terrorism. International cooperation is very necessary and urgent for opposing terrorism. In attacking terrorism, it is necessary to have conclusive evidence and clear targets, avoid hitting the innocent, comply with the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and the generally acknowledged principles of the international law, and give play to the role of the U.N. Security Council."

"All actions should be in the long-term interest of safeguarding world peace and development," Zhu said.

Fleischer would not say what action the United States would take should military action destablize the region, possibly toppling the Taliban regime. He maintained that the focus of U.S. officials was its campaign against terrorists.

"The president does not pick and choose who is to be in power around the world. The president's goal is to protect Americans and people around the world from terrorism," he said.

In his address before a joint session of Congress, Bush condemned the Taliban regime and said that by aiding and abetting murder, it was committing murder.

He demanded the Taliban deliver to appropriate authorities all terrorists in Afghanistan and all those involved in their infrastructure.

The Taliban should also release all foreign nationals - including American citizens unjustly jailed - and protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers.

Finally, he said, the United States should be given full access to terrorist training camps to make sure they were no longer operating. Bush's demands effectively raise the bar for the Taliban which has refused to expel him, even to a third country, let alone to the United States.

"There is already an indictment for Osama bin Laden," Fleischer said Friday. "There's been indictments in the case of Tanzania and Kenya, with the bombings in East Africa, with the indications that the Taliban and Osama bin Laden were involved, and that the al Qaida organization and Osama bin Laden were involved in the bombing of the (USS) Cole.

"The president last night made his conditions clear, and he said there will be no discussions and no negotiations," Fleischer said.

Bush Thursday named Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Ridge to head the new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security. Talks were underway with Congress about funding and staff for the office, Fleischer said.

Fleischer said Ridge would not face a confirmation hearing since Bush created the office.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The White House maintained it would not negotiate with leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban regime, who they believe are harboring suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and members of his Muslim extremist organization al Qaida. Federal authorities say bin Laden, already...
Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM
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