U.S. reaches out to adversaries in anti-terrorism campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) – In its quest for a diverse anti-terror coalition, the Bush administration said Tuesday it has made overtures to Sudan and Cuba. Russia’s foreign minister, arriving to meet with President Bush, called on nations to ”interact more effectively” to fight global terrorism.
”One more time, the fact proved to be true, that terrorism does not recognize borders,” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters late Tuesday after arriving in Washington. ”This is the challenge to the civilized community that needs to be forcefully confronted.”
Ivanov was to meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell and the president on Wednesday.
Sudan and Cuba are the third and fourth nations on the State Department terrorism list seen as potential sources of information in last week’s attacks.
Powell called Sudanese Foreign Minister Osman Ismail Mustafa and asked for his cooperation after taking note of Sudan’s offer to play a constructive role combating terrorism.
High-level contacts with Sudan have been extremely rare, and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the conversation a good beginning.
Boucher also said a U.S. official visited Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Washington and asked for whatever information Cuba might have about the terrorist attack. Cuba strongly condemned the Sept. 11 disaster.
U.S. officials said a diverse anti-terrorism coalition would be more viable politically than one limited largely to Western democracies. Powell has been reaching out to Arab and Muslim countries in recent days.
Meanwhile, officials reacted skeptically to conditions that Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement was said to be demanding in exchange for extraditing Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks.
The conditions include international recognition of Taliban rule and the lifting of U.N. sanctions.
An administration official said the U.S. stance is based on two U.N. Security Council resolutions approved over the past two years in response to the Taliban’s role in sheltering bin Laden.
The resolutions demand that bin Laden be expelled to a country where he can be brought to justice. U.S. officials hold out little hope that the Taliban will comply with that.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also raised doubts Tuesday about whether the surrender of bin Laden by the Taliban would enable that group to evade hostile actions by the U.S. military.
”Clearly you begin on a journey with one step, and he would be one step,” Rumsfeld said on CBS’ ”The Early Show.” But he said even if bin Laden were not protected by the Taliban, the radical organization he heads, al-Qaida, ”would continue doing what it’s been doing. So clearly the problem is much bigger than bin Laden.”
As for Pakistan, Boucher said there was no promise of U.S. assistance for that country in exchange for its pledge to back American efforts to hunt down those responsible for last week’s attacks.
”It was entered into without any demands, without any conditions, without any quid pro quos,” he said.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said the United States should lift trade sanctions on Pakistan and back World Bank loans for economic development in Pakistan ”so the population can see a positive reason to engage with the United States.”
Sanctions against Pakistan were imposed in response to its nuclear weapons program and to the October 1999 military coup that installed Gen. Pervez Musharraf as president.
Powell received a warm expression of support and sympathy Tuesday from South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo. President Bush had an evening meeting and dinner scheduled with French President Jacques Chirac, who was expected to reaffirm his forceful opposition to international terror.
The United States lists Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq and North Korea as supporters or sponsors of terrorism. The United States has contacted Cuba, Sudan and Syria as part of its search for information on the attacks.
There has been no contact with Iran, but the State Department said Saturday it was heartened by Tehran’s response to the attacks and sees a possible role for Iran in the present situation.
Some officials are skeptical about any overture to Iran, noting that the State Department has listed Iran as the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism for years. On the other hand, Iran, which shares a border with Afghanistan, may have an interest in taking action against the Taliban based on long-standing hostile relations.
Cuba has voiced strong opposition to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But its criticisms have been coupled with strongly worded complaints that alleged terrorism originating from anti-Castro groups in Miami occurs without international condemnation.
On the Net: State Department: http://www.state.gov/
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