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Bush Says Taleban Will Fail in Afghanistan


President Bush says Taleban fighters will not retake power in Afghanistan, where militants have staged a series of offensives and targeted killings recently that have destabilized much of the country. The president is continuing a series of speeches on terrorism ahead of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Toppling the Taleban government in Afghanistan and closing terrorist training camps there was the Bush administration's first big international offensive following the September 11th attacks.

But Taleban fighters have not gone away, and recent violence has made this the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since they lost power. NATO's top commander is calling for allies to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, saying he has been surprised by the intensity of Taleban attacks in southern provinces.

President Bush says he knows that fight is not yet over, but he has no doubt that the Taleban will lose.

"Five years later, Taleban and al-Qaida remnants are desperately trying to retake control of that country," he said. "They will fail. They will fail because the Afghan people have tasted freedom. They will fail because their vision is no match for a democracy accountable to its citizens. They will fail because they are no match for the military forces of a free Afghanistan, a NATO alliance, and the United States of America."

In what he called an update on American security since the September 11th attacks, President Bush told an audience in the southern state of Georgia that the United States is safer, but still not safe.

He cited improvements in airport security and noted that U.S. intelligence agencies have been reorganized to better share information about suspected terrorists.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans still approve of the president's handling of the fight against terrorism, but they are far less supportive of the war in Iraq.

With congressional elections less than nine weeks away, the president has been giving a series of speeches leading up to the September 11th anniversary, linking the continued threat of terrorism with the war in Iraq, saying they are part of the ideological struggle of the 21st century.

Many opposition Democrats disagree. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says the war in Iraq has undermined security at home.

"The war in Iraq has weakened our military," she said. "It has weakened our readiness. It has cost us so much in lives, which is the most important, and in dollars, which is important, but not as important. And it has cost us in reputation in the world to make the American people safer."

Congresswoman Pelosi says Iraq has been a diversion from the broader fight against terrorism and the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. President Bush says terrorists know better.

"It's hard to believe that extremists would make large journeys across dangerous borders to endure heavy fighting and to blow themselves up on the streets of Baghdad for a so-called diversion," he said. "The terrorists know that the outcome in the war on terror will depend on the outcome of the war in Iraq. So to protect our citizens, the free world must succeed in Iraq."

Mr. Bush says America's enemies are not satisfied and are determined to strike again.

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