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Bush to Taleban: Time For Action, Not Words


President Bush says there will be no negotiating with Taleban leaders in Afghanistan.

As he met Friday with Jordan's King Abdullah, President Bush told reporters there will be no discussions with the Taleban. He insisted that Afghanistan's leaders hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and all members of his al-Qaida organization.

"First, there is no negotiations with the Taleban. They heard what I said and now they can act. It's not just Mr. bin Laden that we expect to see and brought to justice, it's everybody associated with his organization that is in Afghanistan. And not only those directly associated with Mr. bin Laden, any terrorist that is housed and fed in Afghanistan needs to be handed over," the president said. "And finally, we expect there to be complete destruction of terrorist camps. That is what I told them. That's what I mean. We expect them to not only hear what I say, but to do something about it."

Taleban leaders say they will not hand over Mr. bin Laden without proof that he was involved in this month's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Afghan Muslim clerics say the attacks should be the subject of independent inquiries by the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

The United States says it has proof of Mr. bin Laden's involvement and has shared it with some key allies.

The president said it is time for action from the Taleban, not words. He said an international coalition against terrorism will deal with those who help terrorists in the same way it deals with terrorists themselves.

"I said loud and clear, sometimes people will be able to see what we do on the television screens," Mr. Bush said Friday. "Othertimes, the American people won't be able to see what we are doing. But make no mistake about it, we are in hot pursuit. We are going to enforce the doctrine. We are going to be diligent and patient and determined to bring people to justice and to rout out terrorist activity around the world."

The president declined to respond to reports that Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow U.S. forces to use a command, control, and communications center in Saudi Arabia to coordinate its possible attacks against Mr. bin Laden's group in Afghanistan.

In the oval office meeting with King Abdullah, the president said he appreciates the messages of condolence and support from allies in the Middle East.

"I am most pleased with the cooperation we're getting in the Middle East," he said. "Clearly, the cooperation with our friends the Jordanians is strong and powerful and we are united. But the Saudis as well. Not only are they helping stabilize Pakistan, which is a very important part of our diplomatic efforts, they are also cooperating with us in terms of any military planning we might be doing."

Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are the major U.S. allies in the Middle East as it wants Arab nations to play a leading role in the international coaltion to help show that this is a fight against terrorism and not a fight against Islam.

"The al-Qaida people don't represent Islam as far as America is concerned," President Bush said. "They represent evil. They are evil people. And that is not the Muslim faith I know and understand. Nor is it the Muslim faith of millions of Americans who are proud and devout Muslims."

King Abdullah said he came to Washington to see what Jordan can do to help in the fight against terrorism. He said Muslims around the world reject the violence of Mr. bin Laden's group.

"What these people stand for is completely against all the principles that Arab and Muslims believe in," the king said. "And so, on those principles alone, I think it will be very, very easy for people to stand together. As the president said, this is a fight against evil. And the majority of Arabs and Muslims will band together with our colleagues all over the world to be able to put an end to this horrible scourge of international terrorism, and you will see a united front."

Before coming to Washington, King Abdullah made it clear he wants U.S. assurances that the fight against terrorism will not appear as a broader battle against Arabs and Islam.

President Bush Friday signed into law the U.S./Jordanian free trade agreement which had stalled for nearly a year in the U.S. Congress after being negotiated by former President Clinton. Mr. Bush told King Abdullah that, "at long last" they have accomplished one of the king's main objectives - increasing economic cooperation with the United States.

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