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AFGHANISTAN - Dec. 28 - Bush Shifts Focus Of War Away From Bin Laden.

Speaking at his Texas ranch, US Pres. Bush says capturing Osama Bin Laden is only part of the US objectives in Afghanistan. (His remarks are a response to growing questions about the whereabouts of Bin Laden and whether the US can reasonably declare victory in Afghanistan without finding him "dead or alive"). He says: "Our objective is more than Bin Laden". Bush says he will not be making "political decisions about what to do with our military. I gave Tommy [Franks] a mission, it was a well defined mission, and Tommy's in charge of getting that mission done. And when Tommy says, 'Mission complete, Mr. President', that's when we start moving troops out". Speaking of Bin Laden, Bush says: "He's on the run, if he's running at all... I mean, this is a guy who three months ago was in control of a country. Now he's maybe in control of a cave". If, as some reports have suggested, Bin Laden fled to Pakistan, the US could count on the support of Pakistani Pres. Pervez Musharraf, Bush says. Bush praises Musharraf's move to round up 50 Islamic extremists this week in response to India's demands to crack down on terrorist groups threatening Kashmir. Bush says more than 6,000 prisoners are being held in Afghanistan by US allies and are being interrogated to determine who will be taken into US custody. He says he has decided US citizens should be excluded from proposed military tribunals - a clear reference to John Walker Lindh, the young American captured fighting with the Taliban. Bush's comments come as broad agreement has been reached on an international peacekeeping force. Early next week the deployment of up to 4,000 troops will begin. Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim held talks with Maj-Gen. John McColl, the British commander of the multinational force. Afterwards Fahim said around 3,000 troops would help the interim government secure Kabul and surrounding areas.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 31, 2001
Previous Article:AFGHANISTAN - Dec. 28 - Afghans Say Stop Bombing.
Next Article:AFGHANISTAN - Dec. 30 - Strikes To Continue Until Al Qaida Is Crushed.

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