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Bush: War Against Terrorism, Not Muslims - 2001-09-19

President Bush says nations are contributing to the war on terrorism in different ways: overtly, and in secret. Mr. Bush spoke as he welcomed Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to the White House.

Megawati Sukarnoputri leads the most populous Muslim country in the world -a point that was not lost on President Bush.

"I have made it clear, Madam President, that the war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims. Nor is it a war against Arabs," the president said. "It is a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people."

As they sat down for talks at the White House, Mr. Bush emphasized that terrorism knows no borders. He went on to stress twice that countries around the world will contribute to the fight against terrorists in a variety of ways.

"Some nations will be comfortable supporting overt activities, some nations will be comfortable supporting covert activities," he said, "some nations will only be comfortable in providing information, others will be helpful and only feel comfortable helping on financial matters. I understand that."

President Bush said the United States is gathering as much evidence as it can to bolster the case for action against those responsible for last week's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And he once again called on Afghanistan's Taleban rulers to hand over the man identified by the Bush administration as a prime suspect: Saudi militant Osama bin Laden.

"Anybody who harbors terrorists needs to fear the United States and the rest of the free world," President Bush said. "Anybody who houses a terrorist or encourages terrorism will be held accountable."

Earlier, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer rejected the notion of talks with the Taleban. Mr. Fleischer said it's time for Taleban action, not negotiations.