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Blair, Rumsfeld Wind Up Tours to Middle East, South Asia - 2001-10-06


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says international pressure on Afghanistan's ruling Taleban will not stop until those who carried out attacks against the United States last month are brought to justice.

Speaking in New Delhi after talks with his Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr. Blair said the Taleban must give up the prime suspect in the attacks, Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, and close down his terrorist network.

Mr. Blair also said that any action against Afghanistan would be proportionate and targetted, making full allowance for the humanitarian situation in the country. The British and Indian prime ministers both called for a stable "broad-based" government in Afghanistan with representation by all ethnic groups within the country and based on the rule of law.

Mr. Vajpayee also warned that terrorism must be dealt with globally, saying that condoning an act of terror in one country can lead to a deadlier attack somewhere else. Mr. Blair is winding up a three-nation tour that included visits to Pakistan and Russia and was aimed at building support for the U-S-led coalition against terrorism.

U-S Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is also heading home from a five-nation trip to the region, after securing permission for U-S forces to use an air base in Uzbekistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov said the air field would be used for search and rescue missions, but not for attacks against Afghanistan.

U-S officials say one-thousand American troops are already on their way to Uzbekistan, in the first major deployment of U-S ground forces in areas bordering Afghanistan.

Mr. Rumsfeld also visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkey.

Before leaving Ankara, the U-S defense secretary thanked Turkey for its backing of U-S efforts against terrorism. He said the United States sees terrorism as a worldwide problem, and that each country must make its own judgment as to what is the best way to deal with it.

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