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Bush Briefs Congressional Leaders - 2001-10-23

President Bush met with Congressional leaders Tuesday morning to brief them on the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan. U.S. leaders are still working on a plan for a new government there.

The President gets back to business in Washington Tuesday after the Asian economic summit in China. He meets with members of Congress to brief them on that trip and commitments from Asian leaders to help in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Bush had breakfast with Congressional leaders to discuss that fight. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt said the U.S. is continuing to make progress against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan. "We talked about what's happening in Afghanistan and feel that there is being good progress made in the situation there," he said. "We gotta keep working at it and find the people who perpetrated what happened on September 11."

Mr. Gephardt said the President is determined to work with world leaders to help shape a new government in Afghanistan to replace the Taleban. "I don't think we are there yet, but obviously everybody wants to work with the international community to leave in place a governance that will be more successful than what has happened in the past," he said. "It is hard to do, but it can be done. We will need the help of the United Nations and other countries around the world."

Mr. Gephardt said U.S. officials are continuing to investigate the deaths of two postal workers thought to have handled anthrax-laced mail bound for the U.S. Capitol. The discovery of traces of the deadly bacteria there last week closed the building. Mr. Gephardt says Congress is now back at work, but legislators are being cautious. "We can't be in fear of it," he said. "We can't change everything that we do. But we gotta be careful, we gotta be sensible, we gotta be cautious, we gotta be safe. That is what we have been trying to say for the last week and I think that is the best course for us to follow."

More than 2,000 Washington-area postal workers have been tested for the disease. Investigators are trying to figure out whether there is a link between the anthrax in Washington and anthrax sent to media outlets in New York and Florida.