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British Prime Minister to Warn Taleban of Military Action - 2001-10-02

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to warn Tuesday that military action against Afghanistan's Taleban rulers is now inevitable. Mr. Blair is due to speak [at 1300 UTC] at a conference of his Labor Party.

Aides to the prime minister say Mr. Blair will be taking a tough line against the Taleban for their refusal to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

British media, which have been briefed on the speech, report that Mr. Blair will say that U.S.-led military strikes will target Osama bin Laden's training camps and Taleban military targets.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the Taleban have mocked the world by sheltering Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind last month's terrorist attacks in the United States.

Mr. Straw told British radio the time for patience with the Taleban has run out. "To turn the other cheek would be to just encourage much, much greater danger. Military action, as the prime minister will be saying, may well have to be used unless there is a dramatic change of mind by the Taleban," Straw said.

Mr. Straw says any strike will be "proportionate and directed" at military targets, not civilians.

Prime Minister Blair is expected to emphasize that humanitarian efforts to help Afghan civilians will be as just important and as well planned as any military attacks.