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U.S.: Bush Asks Afghan People To Cooperate Against Terrorism

  • Frank Csongos

U.S. President George W. Bush has called on the Afghan people to help in the fight against terrorism. Bush says that many ordinary Afghans are likely to be troubled by the presence of terrorist networks in their country.

Washington, 26 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush is urging Afghan citizens disenchanted with the ruling Taliban militia to cooperate with the United States in its efforts to bring suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to justice.

Speaking at the White House yesterday, Bush said the U.S. campaign was about rooting out terrorists. The president said the best way to accomplish this mission is to ask for the cooperation of Afghan citizens "who may be tired of having the Taliban in place" or troubled by the presence of Saudi-born bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of terrorist attacks on America earlier this month.

Bush also said he was not interested in engaging in Afghan "nation building." That comment appeared to have signaled that the U.S. did not have as its primary mission the installation of a new government in Kabul.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained that any U.S. action was not designed to replace one regime with another.

Commenting on the fight against terrorism, Bush said: "We're focused on justice. And we're going to get justice. It's going to take a while, probably, but I'm a patient man. Nothing will diminish my will and my determination. Nothing. "

Bush spoke following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who pledged his country's support.

Koizumi is the latest of a string of foreign leaders to visit the United States since terrorists attacked New York and Washington more than two weeks ago. Koizumi said Japan will share intelligence and work on the diplomatic front in the fight against terrorists.

"We Japanese humbly stand by the United States to fight terrorism. We could make sure for this global objective, we must fight terrorism with determination and patience. A very good meeting. A fantastic meeting."

Bush said he is pleased with international cooperation in combating terrorism.

"And not only am I pleased with the great cooperation that we're having with our friend, the Japanese, I am most pleased that the Saudi Arabians yesterday (24 September) cut off relations with the Taliban, and that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, in a strong statement to the world, talked about the cooperation that Russia and the United States will have in combating global terrorism as well."

On the financial front, the United States and its major allies agreed yesterday to produce a coordinated plan to freeze assets of terrorist organizations.

The G-7 nations of major industrial democracies -- the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Canada -- issued a statement of cooperation. The declaration followed by a day orders issued by President Bush to freeze financial assets in the United States belonging to bin Laden and 26 other people and groups suspected of funding terrorists. A meeting of finance ministers and central bank presidents from the seven countries was scheduled to be held in Washington next month.

At the Pentagon, meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave this characterization of the war on terrorism.

"Needless to say, there's not going to be a D-Day as such, and I'm sure there will not be a signing ceremony on the Missouri as such. This is not something that begins with a significant event or ends with a significant event. It is something that will involve a sustained effort over a good period of time."

The D-Day Rumsfeld was referring to was the U.S.-led invasion of Normandy in June 1944, a massive military action against Nazi forces in occupied France. The assault represented the final phase of the war in Europe. And it was on the U.S. warship Missouri that the unconditional surrender of Japan was initialed in August 1945, which ended World War II.

Rumsfeld said of the war on terrorism: "It will not be an antiseptic war, I regret to say. It will be difficult. It will be dangerous. And there is, as we are aware -- and regret to say -- the likelihood is that more people may be lost."

Rumsfeld said victory will come only when terrorists can no longer disrupt the way of life in the United States and the rest of the civilized world.