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Bush Urges Disenchanted Afghans to Join War on Terrorism - 2001-09-26


President Bush is urging Afghan citizens disenchanted with their Taleban rulers to join the war on terrorism. Mr. Bush is also praising Saudi Arabia for its decision to break ties with the Taleban.

Mr. Bush says the Taleban is an incredibly repressive regime. But he stops short of saying America's aim is to remove it from power.

"We are not into nation building. We are focused on justice and we are going to get justice," the president said.

The President is, however, encouraging opposition to the Taleban within Afghanistan. He says those who are disenchanted with the regime can help the United States achieve its overall goal - to track down the people responsible for the deadliest terrorist attacks in American history.

"One way to do that is to ask for the cooperation of citizens within Afghanistan who may be tired of having the Taleban in place, or tired of having Osama Bin Laden, people from foreign soil, in their own land," Mr. Bush said.

The Taleban says Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization are "guests" in Afghanistan. President Bush says the Afghan regime is sheltering terrorists and will share their fate.

"They have made the decision to harbor terrorists," President Bush said. "Now, the mission is to rout terrorists, to find them and bring them to justice."

Mr. Bush spoke to reporters after talks at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He used the occasion to thank all the countries aiding the international coalition he is forming to fight terrorism, with a special emphasis on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Hours earlier, Saudi Arabia severed relations with the Taleban. It was a diplomatic victory for the United States. And it left just one country with ties to the Afghan regime - its neighbor Pakistan.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to maintain relations, saying someone should have access to the Taleban. The Bush administration will not say if it has asked Islamabad to break ties or keep them. President Bush would only say he is pleased with Pakistan's support for his anti-terrorism campaign.

"We are most pleased with their response. They are a country that is obviously going to be deeply affected by actions we may or may not take in that part of the world," he said.

Mr. Bush was active on several fronts Tuesday - focusing on both international diplomacy and matters closer to home. He conferred with leading members of the U.S. Congress about pending legislation. And he traveled a few blocks from the White House to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the inquiry into the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

He thanked FBI personnel for their work. And he urged Congress to approve his requests for expanded authority to monitor telephone calls and detain suspected terrorists.

"They are measured requests," the president explained. "They are responsible requests. They are Constitutional requests."

But some members of Congress say the proposals are too broad and could infringe on individual freedoms. President Bush says the nation is at war and law enforcement needs the tools to win - tools that can be provided without violating the Constitution.