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US Ready to Help Opponents of Taleban - 2001-10-01

The White House says it will assist those who seek a democratic Afghanistan that does not harbor terrorists.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer leaves no doubt the Bush administration is willing to help those who oppose Afghan's ruling Taleban regime. "The United States is not going to get into the business of choosing who rules Afghanistan," he said. "But the United States will assist those who are seeking a peaceful, economically developed Afghanistan that does not engage in terrorism."

Mr. Fleischer would not provide specifics. He says aid to the Afghan opposition could take many forms. "Political, diplomatic, military, financial - all of the above," he said.

The White House spokesman says the United States is also likely to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, though he notes the Taleban has been intercepting some food aid shipments. "Given the fact that the United States is the world's largest donor of food aid to the people of Afghanistan, the United States and President Bush are very concerned about the actions the Taleban regime has taken to seize food from the people who need the food the most," said Mr. Fleischer.

Mr. Fleischer will not provide a dollar figure for the amount of food aid that might be needed to help the Afghan people get through the coming winter. But The New York Times reports that the Bush administration is planning to provide $100 million in extra relief for Afghan refugees.