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America's New War: White House Response to Taliban

Aired September 21, 2001 - 06:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: let's check in first with our Kelly Wallace who is at the White House early this Friday morning.

Kelly, what is the word there this morning about is there any response at all to this Taliban press conference that we saw a couple of hours ago?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Leon, we definitely have a response. You know we heard the Taliban say that it would not turn over Osama bin Laden unless the United States provided some evidence of the crimes that he committed or may have committed.

Well, I spoke with an administration official earlier this morning who said that President Bush made it -- in his words -- amazingly clear to the American people and to the world in his speech Thursday night that his demands on the Taliban are not only not open for negotiation, they are not open for debate.

We heard the president in that speech not only call for the Taliban to turn over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and other members of the groups of terrorism organizations knows as al Qaeda, he also laid out a series of other demands for the Taliban.

Here is Mr. Bush in his speech before Congress Thursday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities.

(APPLAUSE)

Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: The president also saying in that speech last night, the leaders of the Taliban will either hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate. Now another thing that was coming from the Taliban today, they said that if the United States attacks Afghanistan, well then they are calling on all Muslims around the world to engage in a holy war against the United States. Well an administration official I talked to, to react to that said President Bush also made it clear in his speech last night that this is not a war against Islam, it's not a war against Muslim nations, it is a war against terrorism.

And, Leon, we heard the president directly in that address saying -- quote -- "the enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends, it is not our many Arab friends, our enemy is a radical network of terrorists." This is a message, Leon, we've heard President Bush repeat, Secretary of State Colin Powell repeat as they've been meeting with Arab and Muslim leaders this week. It's a message we're likely to hear them keep repeating in the days and weeks ahead -- Leon.

HARRIS: Yes, sure, no question on that one, Kelly. But let me ask you, what's the latest now on President Bush's diplomatic efforts now? He's been talking to other countries and trying to build a coalition here. What is the next step now now that the Taliban has come out and said exactly what they've said this morning and yesterday as well?

WALLACE: Well, it's a very, very good question. Diplomacy likely to continue. As you know, the president meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair last night. He also met with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia. Likely to continue talking to world leaders to keep this coalition together.

What we didn't hear from the president last night, Leon, he did not say or specify a timetable about when a military campaign would get underway but clearly warplanes and troops are on the move. The president saying that the hour when the U.S. will act is coming. So clearly the military part of that campaign will come.

The president making it clear, though, this will be a diplomatic, political, financial and economic campaign as well. So likely to see the diplomacy continue while the military planning continues as well and the big question continues to be exactly when and how the U.S. will respond -- Leon.

HARRIS: Yes, and I've got more than a feeling that we won't know until it happens.

WALLACE: Absolutely.

HARRIS: Kelly Wallace at the White House, thank you very much.

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