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Afghanistan: U.S. Paving Way For 'Friendly Troops'

Washington, 18 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says U.S. strikes on Afghanistan are paving the way for what he called "friendly troops" to defeat the Taliban and the terrorists it has been harboring. Bush made the remark in a speech yesterday in Sacramento, California. Reports say Bush repeated his support for Northern Alliance opposition forces fighting the Taliban.

He said the U.S. is making progress in the campaign against the ruling Taliban and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Bush said the U.S. has destroyed many terrorist camps and damaged the Taliban's air defenses. Reports say U.S. strikes continued overnight with attacks near the capital Kabul.

Bush said: "Our people are united. Our government is determined. Our cause is right. And justice will be done."

Bush made the remarks on his way to Shanghai, China, where he will attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The president said he will try to enlist new allies at the summit in the war against terrorism.

Bush is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai later today. The summit of APEC leaders will take place Saturday and Sunday.

In another development, the U.S. Defense Department rejected calls yesterday by international aid workers for a suspension of the U.S. bombing campaign to allow truck convoys to carry food into Afghanistan unimpeded. The Pentagon said the Taliban is the primary obstacle to relief efforts.