Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he is confident U.S. forces will find Osama bin Laden but possibly outside Afghanistan.
The commander of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan says U.S. forces are tightening the noose around the senior leadership of the Taleban and al-Qaida.
Army four-star General Tommy Franks says it is only a matter of time before they are caught or killed. "We're tightening the noose; it's a matter of time," he said.
But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cautions against unrealistic expectations. He calls Afghanistan's border porous and hints Osama bin Laden may successfully flee the country.
Still, Mr. Rumsfeld tells Pentagon reporters the terrorist leader will eventually be located. "It's not a bottle you can cork," he said. "It's a large country with a lot of borders. One has to be realistic. I think we'll find him, either there or in some other country."
Officials have previously indicated Osama bin Laden could flee into neighboring Iran or Pakistan, or possibly to countries linked to al-Qaida like Somalia or Sudan.
The Pentagon says U.S. airstrikes have been targeting Taleban and al-Qaida leaders. Two bomb attacks this week - one near Kabul and another near Kandahar, claimed the lives of some leaders of the two groups.
But a Pentagon spokeswoman says there is no evidence that either Osama bin Laden or Taleban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar were among the casualties.