Bush offers Taleban a second chance

War against terrorism: Bush press conference
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The Independent US

President George W Bush said that "it may take a year or two" to track down Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, but asserted that after a five-day aerial bombardment of Afghanistan, "we've got them on the run."

At a White House news conference last night, Bush said he did not know whether bin Laden was dead or alive. But he said the US would reconsider its military strikes if they "cough up" bin Laden.

"I want him brought to justice," he said of the man believed behind the terrorist attacks that killed about 5,000 people. And he told the Taleban regime: "You still have a second chance."

In a news conference live on television Thursday night, the president said that an FBI warning issued earlier in the day was the result of a general threat of possible future terrorist acts the government had received. "I hope it's the last, but given the attitude of the evildoers, it may not be," he said.

On the Middle East, the President said: "I believe there ought to be a Palestinian state, the boundaries of which will be negotiated by the parties so long as the Palestinian state recognizes the right of Israel to exist and will treat Israel with respect and will be peaceful on her borders."

I was pleased to see that Mr. Arafat is trying to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority. And I think the world ought to applaud him for that. I hope he's taking measures necessary to reduce the violence in the Middle East so that we can get into the Mitchell process. We're working hard on the topic. It's a very important part of our foreign policy.

Despite the aerial pounding, Bush held out a carrot to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan harboring bin Laden. "You still have a second chance. Just bring him in and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals with him."

However, the president looked ahead to a day when the Taliban would be pushed from power. He suggested that the United Nations could help form a new government for Afghanistan after the U.S.-led military mission was completed.

Asked whether he envisioned expanding military action beyond Afghanistan, to Iraq or Syria, Bush said that the United States would "bring to justice" nations that harbor terrorists. In particular, he called Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an "evil man" and added, "we're watching him very carefully."

While the current focus is on Afghanistan, he said authorities are hunting around the world for cells of al-Qa'ida, the network of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

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