- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2001

President Bush said yesterday that "time is running out" for Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which has "much to fear" if it does not surrender terrorists, but he pledged to help rebuild the country if the Taliban is removed by force.
"The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Full warning has been given, and time is running out."
White House officials yesterday dismissed the Taliban's offer to release jailed foreign aid workers if the United States abandons its threat to use force. "The president has made clear from the beginning that the Taliban needs to release the aid workers and that it is time for action, not negotiation," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.
The eight aid workers in Kabul four Germans, two Americans and two Australians were arrested in August on charges of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Meanwhile, the world's major industrial powers pledged to work together to boost growth in a global economy badly shaken by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and to intensify their efforts to choke off money flowing to terrorist organizations.
The commitments were made by the finance ministers and central bank presidents of the world's seven wealthiest nations following six hours of discussion yesterday in Washington.
"We stand united in our commitment to vigorously track down and intercept the assets of terrorists and to pursue the individuals and countries suspected of financing terrorists," the Group of Seven nations said in a one-page final communique.
The G-7 nations the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada said they were encouraged by the number of other countries that have agreed to join in the effort to freeze assets linked to terrorist organizations. The Financial Action Task Force, created more than a decade ago by industrialized countries to coordinate efforts to halt money laundering, will meet in Washington Oct. 29 and 30 to map out a comprehensive strategy to pursue terrorist finances.
While Mr. Bush warned of im-minent military strikes on Afghan-istan, he suggested the United States would eventually help repair any damage from such strikes.
"I urge Congress to make funds available so that one day the United States can contribute, along with other friends of Afghanistan, to the reconstruction and development of that troubled nation," Mr. Bush said.
"Even as we fight evil regimes, we are generous to the people they oppress," he said. "Following World War II, America fed and rebuilt Japan and Germany, and their people became some of our closest friends in the world."
He added: "We're offering help and friendship to the Afghan people. It is their Taliban rulers, and the terrorists they harbor, who have much to fear."
The pledge to rebuild Af-ghanistan came just two days after the president announced $320 million in humanitarian aid to Afghans, who are caught in the throes of a famine.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush confirmed that the administration is planning to deliver food and medicine by truck, donkey and parachute. "Despite efforts by the Taliban to disrupt these critical aid shipments, we will deliver food and seeds, vaccines and medicines by truck, and even by draft animals," he said.
"Conditions permitting, we will bring help directly to the people of Afghanistan by air drops," the president added. "This aid will help Afghans make it through the upcoming winter."
It was a striking reversal from previous military campaigns by the United States, which has generally bombed strategic targets first and then dropped food to civilians. But Mr. Bush appears determined to win the hearts and minds of Afghans before attacking their Taliban rulers.
"The Taliban promotes terror abroad, and practices terror against its people, oppressing women and persecuting all who dissent," he said. "The Afghan people, however, are the victims of oppression, famine and misrule."
He added: "America respects the Afghan people, their long tradition and their proud independence. And we will help them in this time of confusion and crisis in their country."
In other developments yesterday:
U.S. News & World Report, quoting intelligence sources, said Mohammed Atef, military chief of the al Qaeda terrorist network, was the operational brains behind the Sept. 11 attacks. The magazine said on its Web site that Atef was the man referred to by British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he said there was evidence a close associate of Osama bin Laden had planned the attacks.
The U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, 1,000 troops trained for difficult terrain and cold weather, arrived in Uzbekistan yesterday, which borders Afghanistan. The Soviet republic's president said U.S. forces could use the base for humanitarian and rescue missions, but added he could "not yet" authorize offensive strikes.
The last federal rescue crew left the World Trade Center yesterday, leaving New York officials to continue the almost month-old effort to locate nearly 5,000 bodies buried in the rubble. The Urban Search and Rescue Task Force was the last of 20 Federal Emergency Management Agency teams sent in after the terrorist attacks.
The total number of people missing dropped to 4,979 yesterday, and the number of confirmed dead was 393. Of that figure, 335 victims were identified.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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