The U.S. attacks have most prominently featured daily air strikes, but ground forces also are said to have conducted operations in the country. And now, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has confirmed to the BBC that British soldiers are in Afghanistan too, providing advice and assistance to the Northern Alliance.
Bush Bids for More World Support
As the Northern Alliance claimed victories and the United States kept up its bombing attacks in Afghanistan, President Bush today again reminded world leaders gathered in New York that the Sept. 11 attacks hit many nations.
A ceremony at the World Trade Center rubble marking the two-month anniversary of the terror attacks featured a board with the flags of the United Nations and more than 80 countries whose citizens died there.
After touring the Trade Center wreckage and pausing in silent prayer, the president and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan paused to write messages on the board next to their respective flags. Bush signed his name and wrote, "Good will triumph over evil. May God bless you all."
On Saturday, while appealing for support for U.S.-led military actions before nearly 50 world leaders gathered at the U.N. General Assembly, Bush expressed gratitude for international condolences over the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The memorials and vigils around the world will not be forgotten, but the time for sympathy has now passed," Bush said. "The time for action has now arrived."
Bush reminded the leaders of the attacks' tolls on many nations, and said all civilized nations must work together to defeat terrorism.
"Every nation has a stake in this cause," Bush said. "As we meet, the terrorists are planning more murder, perhaps in my country or perhaps in yours.
The annual U.N. session originally was scheduled to begin Sept. 24, but was postponed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also will engage in diplomacy at the U.N. on Monday, when he talks with foreign ministers of the so-called "six plus two" group — countries bordering on Afghanistan, plus Russia and the United States — in an attempt to shape a broad-based coalition that could rule Afghanistan if the country's ruling Taliban is defeated by the U.S. military campaign.
But keeping any current coalition intact may be easier said than done. While some Middle Eastern allies of the United States have called for Bush to lead Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Bush does not have plans to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the U.N. gathering. Instead, Arafat met today with Powell.
However, Bush pointedly rewarded Pakistan and its president, Musharraf, who has been a vital U.S. ally during the U.S. airstrikes despite considerable political risks. Standing with Musharraf at a press conference, Bush said he had authorized the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Pakistan, debt relief and $1 billion in U.S. aid.
"Pakistan's efforts against terror are benefiting the entire world and linking Pakistan more closely with the world," Bush said. "The United States wants to help build these linkages."
Paper: Bin Laden Claims Nukes
Bush's coalition-building followed quotes by indicted terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was in an English-language Pakistani newspaper, where he said his al Qaeda organization has nuclear and chemical weapons and would use them if the United States used similar weapons first.