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Bush Intensifies Diplomatic Effort Among Anti-Terrorism Coalition Members - 2001-11-10


President Bush has moved to deflect criticism from within the anti-terrorism coalition. He met Friday with officials from several other nations, ahead of his speech Saturday at the United Nations.

President Bush says members of the anti-terrorism coalition understand that it is time for action, not just words. But it is words that have caused tensions within the alliance.

In published reports, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said the United States is not prepared for war in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said President Bush cannot be an honest broker for Middle East peace unless he meets with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

After a White House meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee, President Bush said he appreciates "candid discussions" with members of a coalition that he says has never been stronger. "The time of sympathy is over," he added. "We appreciate the condolences. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for coalition members to respond in their own way. The prime minister of India understands that and he is responding. And the Saudi Arabian government understands that and they are responding as well."

Prime Minister Vajpayee said India supports the president and the coalition. "We admire the decisive leadership of President Bush in the international coalition against terrorism," he said. "We also applaud the resilience and resolve of the American people in this hour of trial. This terrible tragedy has created the opportunity to fashion a determined global response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever it exists and under whatever name."

That is clearly a reference to violence in the disputed region of Kashmir where India says Pakistan has orchestrated attacks across the line separating the countries. Pakistan says guerrillas in the area are Kashmiri freedom fighters.

India controls two-thirds of the Himalayan region. The dispute over Kashmir and subsequent build up of nuclear arms on both sides will be a big part of Mr. Bush's Saturday meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

President Bush said he has condemned terrorism in Kashmir and promised that the coalition would reject terrorism and murder "in all its forms" in order for the world to be peaceful. As for pursuing those behind the attacks of September 11, the president told Prime Minister Vajpayee that coalition members that do not contribute troops can help by breaking up terrorist finances and sharing intelligence information.

"The prime minister understands that we have no option but to win," said Mr. Bush. "And he understands that there needs to be a commitment by all of us to do more than just talk - to achieve certain objectives, to cut off the finances, to put diplomatic pressure on the terrorists, in some cases to help militarily. But in any case stand firm in the face of terror."

Prime Minister Vajpayee said he and President Bush also discussed the need to have a new government in place for Afghanistan before the fall of the Taleban leadership in Kabul.

"We discussed the urgent need for a political order in Afghanistan which would be broad-based, representative, and friendly with all countries in its neighborhood," said Mr. Vajpayee. "Equally important is sustained international assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction work in that country,"

The leaders also discussed a civilian space cooperation program, the future of reliable energy supplies and an initiative to combine efforts to fight cyber-terrorism.

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