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Bush Says US and Russia Will Work for Broad-Based Afghan Government - 2001-11-15

President Bush says the United States and Russia will work together to help bring a broad-based government to Afghanistan. Mr. Bush says the issue of Afghanistan's future played an important rule in his Texas summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As their summit drew to a close, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the war on terrorism, and a better future for Afghanistan.

During a joint appearance at a high school near the Bush ranch in the tiny town of Crawford, Mr. Bush said any new government must include representatives of all Afghan ethnic groups.

"And we are working to figure out a strategy to make sure that that happens," he said.

President Bush said he has three objectives in Afghanistan: to bring terrorists to justice, get aid to those who need it, and make sure a stable government is in place. "It is also important that we stay the course and be strong,"said President Bush. "Because the stronger we are as a coalition, the stronger we are in achieving our objective, the less likely somebody else is going to harbor a terrorist."

Mr. Bush also said he has spoken to two Americans who were among the eight foreign aid workers rescued Wednesday in Afghanistan. Both women are graduates of Baylor University in the nearby city of Waco, Texas. "They both said to say thanks to everybody for their prayers," he said. "They realize there is a good and gracious God. Their spirits were high and they love America."

Those words brought one of the biggest cheers of the day from the crowd gathered in the gymnasium of Crawford High School. Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, who were arrested in Afghanistan for preaching Christianity, are members of a Waco church. The pews of that church were packed Wednesday night when news of their release reached Texas, and many people lifted their arms in joy and prayer.