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U.S.: Bush Says 'Hot Pursuit' Of Terrorists In Progress

Washington, 1 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says the United States is pursuing terrorists responsible for the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington.

Bush spoke at the White House on 28 September during a visit of Jordanian King Abdullah.

Bush declined to discuss details of his military plans for reasons of security but said he expects a "complete destruction" of terrorist training camps.

American media reports say that United States and Britain already have special forces in Afghanistan looking for suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The reports quoted unidentified senior U.S. officials as saying these were "scouting missions" in Afghanistan, where suspected terrorists are hiding. There has been no official confirmation of the reports.

Bush said the U.S. has taken note of lessons learned by Moscow during the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He predicted a war on several fronts, including economic, military, and diplomatic.

"I am fully aware of the difficulties the Russians had in Afghanistan. Our intelligence people and our State Department people are also fully aware. It is very hard to fight a conventional war, a guerilla war, with conventional forces and we understand that. That's why I have explained to the American people that the new war on terror is going to be a different war. It will be fought on a variety of fronts, it will be fought on a financial front, it will require the best of intelligence and the sharing of intelligence. There may or may not be a conventional component to it."

At the White House on 28 September, spokesman Ari Fleischer announced that President Bush will meet next Friday (5 October) with Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze. Fleischer said the meeting was part of the American president's effort to build an international coalition to fight terrorism.

Abdullah told Bush that Jordan will fully support the U.S. campaign against international terrorists.

"We are here to give our full, unequivocal support to you and to the people of America and we will stand by you in these very difficult times."

At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States continued consultations on 28 September with Central Asian countries aimed at coordinating its campaign against international terrorists.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met in Washington with Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov of Kazakhstan. The meeting was held behind closed doors.

Boucher said the U.S. has been working with Uzbekistan and other governments in the region to fight terrorism.

Boucher also made a cautionary comment:

"In terms of the way we have dealt with the problems of terrorism in the region, we have frequently made the point that an essential part of that is to separate the terrorists from the believers, from legitimate and peaceful believers in Islam."

The U.S. says it considers Central Asia strategically important, with several nations bordering on Afghanistan.

In another development, U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said he is not planning to visit Afghanistan for now to mediate in the dispute between its Taliban leaders and the United States. The Taliban reportedly invited Jackson to Kabul in a fax sent by its embassy in Pakistan.

On 28 September Jackson said, "At this point we incline not to go, but we'll keep communicating." He said the timing was not right for a visit.

Both Bush and Powell have said the United States will not negotiate with the Taliban militia about demands that it surrender bin Laden. Powell said Jackson was free to go as a private citizen.