President Bush says the U.S.-led military mission against terrorist and Taleban targets in Afghanistan is going well. But he says he will halt the strikes if the Afghan regime surrenders Osama bin Laden, who is the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Mr. Bush made the comments after talks at the White House with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The President says one way to shorten the U.S. led strikes would be for the Taleban to turn over Osama bin Laden. But he acknowledges that is not likely to happen.
Instead, he predicts the war on terrorism will be a sustained effort on many fronts for a long period of time. "If it takes one day, one month, one year, or one decade, we are patient enough," he said.
Mr. Bush also says stresses the focus of the war on terrorism is not just Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization. He reaffirms the goal is to break a global terrorism network. "Anybody who feeds al-Qaida, who houses al-Qaida, who encourages al-Qaida, any other terrorist organization that is affiliated with al-Qaida is just as guilty, as far as I am concerned."
During a session with reporters, the President made special mention of the efforts other countries, especially Germany, are making to help track down and arrest known terrorists.
Mr. Bush had warm words for German Chancellor Schroeder, who offered his country's strong support for the president's anti-terrorism campaign. But his face turned angry when he was asked about a new controversy brewing with the U.S. Congress.
The president defended his decision to severely restrict the number of lawmakers that can get top-secret briefings on the war on terrorism. He said he took the action because one member of the legislature disclosed sensitive information that could put lives at risk. "It's very serious that people in positions of responsibility understand that they have a responsibility to people who are being put in harm's way," he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush formally informed Congress of his decision to launch military action - a step he is required to take under U.S. law. He also added two men with decades of experience in counter-terrorism to top advisory positions on his White House staff.
Richard Clarke will oversee efforts to protect America's information systems. Retired General Wayne Downing becomes the President's chief advisor on combating global terrorism. "It's going to be a long fight," said Gen. Downing. "It is going to be a tough fight. And the challenge that we have is to bring the great elements of power of this great country of ours to bear on this."
General Downing's primary mission will be to take the efforts of a wide array of government agencies battling terrorism and weave them together into one seamless administration strategy.