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Blair Warns Taleban to Hand Over Bin Laden - 2001-09-25

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan face military confrontation if they continue to shelter suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

At a Tuesday news conference, Prime Minister Blair delivered what he called an "ultimatum" to the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan - either hand over Osama bin Laden or face "military confrontation" with a U.S.-led alliance against terrorism.

"If the regime in Afghanistan refuses to do what they know they should, then our enemy's friend also becomes our enemy too. They have chosen to help the terrorists, and in choosing to help the friends of terror, they are choosing to be enemies of ours," the prime minister said.

Mr. Blair said the stated aim of the United States and its allies is to bring to justice the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks in New York City and on the Pentagon near Washington.

The United States calls Osama bin Laden a prime suspect in the crime. He denies involvement.

Prime Minister Blair said the anti-terrorism coalition has no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan.

He said he had discussions Tuesday with the U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on ways to get food to Afghan refugees and civilians still inside the country.

Prime Minister Blair said he also spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Blair said he is pleased that Russian President Vladimir Putin also has pledged his support for the coalition.

Britain has promised to stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the United States and has played a leading role in military and diplomatic preparations for the battle against terrorism.