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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

White House Says it Can Take al Qaeda, Iraq Simultaneously

Aired October 14, 2002 - 12:19   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Now, a statement attributed to Osama bin Laden praises last week's attack on U.S. Marines in Kuwait. One Marine was killed. The U.S. Embassy says today someone shot at U.S. military units in Kuwait City, no one was injured. The purported bin Laden statement also raises the recent attack on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.
Yemeni officials say the attack was deliberate and terrorism has not been ruled out. The timing of all of these attacks does indeed raise the question, is this a new wave of al Qaeda attacks?

Joining me now, CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace. She is covering all of this -- Kelly, is this al Qaeda reemerging? What are you hearing from your sources, and indeed, can the U.S. fight this war on terror and enforce regime change, as it's called, in Iraq at the same time?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, to your first question, U.S. officials definitely concerned. They do think this is showing sort of a resurgence of al Qaeda.

But to your second point, U.S. officials will say they can do both, they can fight the al Qaeda network around the world, and deal with Saddam Hussein at the same time.

They say they can do this without diminishing the effort put into either mission. U.S. officials also say something else. They point to what President Bush has said, other top officials, that dealing with Saddam Hussein, disarming the Iraqi leader, they believe is part of the war on terror. After all, one official saying to me just a short time ago, what if Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of any terrorist group, such as al Qaeda?

But, you do have some U.S. allies around the world who have expressed some concern saying any possible military action against Iraq could really disrupt the international coalition against al Qaeda.

Now, it's unclear if this latest attack in Bali, combined with the other attacks that we've seen targeting Westerners, if that will increase any opposition to any possible war with Iraq, really the debate now will be focussed on what happens up at the United Nations Security Council. There is expected to be be debate on Wednesday. U.S. officials still cautiously optimistic they will get a resolution soon, and it looks like a possible compromise, Wolf, a resolution which would call for consequences for Iraq, but would not include the words "military force" -- Wolf. BLITZER: Kelly Wallace with the latest at the White House. Kelly, thanks very much.

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