President Bush rejects a Taleban call that the United States should show proof of Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden's involvement in last week's terrorist attacks. Afghanistan's government must now turn over the suspected terrorist.
White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says it is time for action from the Taleban not a time for negotiations. He said, "the President has made it clear that the Taleban should not harbor terrorists. It doesn't get more complicated than that."
Mr. Fleischer says it is time for the Afghan government to turn-over Osama Bin Laden.
Taleban authorities call that request a "pretext" to destroy them. In a message to Muslim clerics, Taleban Supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar did offer to open talks with the United States to settle outstanding issues. He called on the Bush administration to be patient and provide proof that Osama Bin Laden is behind the attacks that killed more than 5,000 people.
President Bush says Mr. Bin Laden is the prime suspect in those attacks. Asked for proof, Mr. Fleischer says the United States has plenty of reason to believe he organized the violence based on his involvement in past attacks and information and opinions shared by other governments.
Mr. Fleischer said, "If you take a look at the track record, for example, Osama bin Laden is already under indictment for the things he has done before. There is no question in the previous bombing of the World Trade Center that the al-Qaida organization and Osama bin Laden were behind it. The bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were all attributed to Osama bin Laden and his organization. There are indications that the bombing of the USS Cole were attributed to Osama bin Laden. And as the United States government continues to gather evidence in this case, it will be shared with governments. If any of the governments share your concerns, I am sure they will make it clear to us. We are hearing scant little of that."
President Bush continued to build an international coalition to fight terrorism in talks Wednesday with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Germany. He also spoke by telephone Wednesday with the Presidents of South Korea and South Africa. Thursday Mr. Bush meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.