President Bush says U.S. Marines are being deployed in Afghanistan to find those responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Mr. Bush says the core objective of the military operation in Afghanistan is to track down al-Qaida terrorists and their supporters. He says that is the mission of the U.S. marines now arriving in southern Afghanistan. "We are smoking them out ... they are running ... and now we are going to bring them to justice," he said.
He says it will not be easy and it will take time. "We have got a long way to go in order to achieve our objective," said President Bush. "But we are patient. We are resolved. And we will stay the course until we achieve our objective."
The President spoke after a meeting at the White House with two American aid workers recently rescued from Afghanistan. A brief appearance in the White House rose garden turned into a press conference, with reporters asking the President about next steps in the war on terrorism.
Mr. Bush used the opportunity to put Iraq on notice. For the first time, he said a country that seeks weapons of mass destruction could be seen as a nation that aids terrorists. "If they develop weapons of mass destruction that will be used to terrorize nations, they will be held accountable," he said.
President Bush called on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to let U.N. weapons inspectors back into his country. Asked what would happen if Saddam Hussein refused, Mr. Bush replied simply "he'll find out."