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Bush Flatly Rejects Latest Taleban Offer to Negotiate - 2001-10-14

President Bush swiftly and personally rejected the latest offer from Afghanistan's Taleban regime to turn over Osama bin Laden, if certain conditions are met. Mr. Bush says there will be no negotiations and no discussions with the Taleban.

The Taleban says it might turn the suspected terrorist mastermind over to a neutral country. But a Taleban official says the United States must halt its bombing of Afghanistan, and provide proof that Osama bin Laden orchestrated the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

President Bush quickly rebuffed the offer. "There is no need to discuss innocence or guilt," he said. "We know he is guilty. Turn him over."

Speaking to reporters just minutes after he returned to the White House by helicopter from his Camp David retreat, Mr. Bush emphasized there will be no negotiations with the Taleban.

"They must have not heard. There are no negotiations. This is non-negotiable," the president said. "These people, if they are interested in us stopping our military operations, we will do so if they meet the conditions that I outlined in my speech to the United States Congress."

The President's demands include the surrender of Osama bin Laden and other leaders of his al-Qaida organization, the destruction of all terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and the release of detained foreign aid workers.

"It is as simple as that. There is nothing to negotiate about," he said. "They are harboring a terrorist and they need to turn him over."

Earlier in the day, President Bush talked about the war against terrorism in a videotaped address shown at a medical convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He said in recent days, the United States has experienced one of the darkest moments in the country's history. But he went on to say the nation's business will continue, and vowed to press important domestic initiatives while fighting terrorism overseas.