Bush Urges American to Fly

Bush returned to Washington after his speech in Chicago, to resume diplomatic work convincing world leaders that the United States is acting prudently.

White House meetings were scheduled with European Council President Guy Verhofstadt and European Union Commission President Romano Prodi, both of whom could be keys in the effort to build support for military action in Afghanistan.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has been trying to convince NATO and Russian leaders that the United States has a strong case against bin Laden, to cement support for any action the United States deems appropriate.

"Certain arguments were supplied, but our meeting was confidential and therefore I cannot repeat here what [he] said," Russian envoy to NATO Sergei Ivanov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Officials tell ABCNEWS that American forces are ready for an airstrike campaign, though Rumsfeld has indicated an immediate airstrike is unlikely.

In a surprising development, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said he is considering an invitation from the Taliban to go to Afghanistan and discuss the bin Laden situation. White House officials have said Jackson should not get involved, and the Taliban said today it did not invite Jackson to Kabul, but would accept his offer to mediate.

Jackson has served as a Clinton administration envoy to Africa and negotiated the release of hostages and soldiers in Kuwait, Iraq and Yugoslavia, but White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, asked about the Taliban's invitation on Wednesday, reiterated the administration's basic position: It wants the Taliban to hand over bin Laden without negotiation.

Terror Planned for Europe, Too

After a series of arrests in Europe on Wednesday, intelligence sources in Europe and the United States said they have broken up a plot to carry out a series of attacks later this year, which they first learned of from an associate of bin Laden.

The intended targets included the American Embassy in Paris, the U.S. Consulate in Marseille, France, buildings at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France.

French and American authorities knew of the plan before Sept. 11, and had been watching the suspected terrorist cells for several weeks, but only decided to move in after the crashes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Another hijacked plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania that day after passengers apparently tried to overcome the terrorists.

Thirty of the roughly 50 members of the terrorist ring been taken into custody in France, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, sources said. The others are being sought in a manhunt.

In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the official number of people missing at the World Trade Center dropped to 5,960 after multiple lists of the victims were double-checked. With that update, the total dead and missing in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania is 6,431.

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