- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

President Bush yesterday rejected the latest offer by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban faction to turn over terrorist Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the United States supplied evidence of his guilt.
"When I said 'no negotiations,' I meant 'no negotiations,'" Mr. Bush told reporters as he returned to the White House from Camp David. "We know he's guilty. Turn him over. There is no negotiation. Period."
Unlike a week ago, when Mr. Bush remained silent about a similar offer from the Taliban, the president eagerly answered questions from reporters yesterday about what the Taliban can do.
"Turn him over. Turn him over. Turn his cohorts over. Turn any hostage they hold over. Destroy all the terrorist camps. There's no need to negotiate. There's no discussions. I told them exactly what they need to do. They are harboring a terrorist, and they need to turn him over," Mr. Bush said, waving his hands.
"There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. If they want us to stop our military operations, they just got to meet my conditions," he said with dog Barney at his side.
Mr. Bush said the Taliban needs to destroy its terrorist camps, then paused and added: "Actually, we're doing a pretty good job of that right now."
Mr. Bush's comments came after a senior official from the militant Islamic movement offered to turn the Saudi-born bin Laden over if the United States provided sufficient evidence linking him to the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It can be negotiated, provided the U.S. gives us evidence and the Taliban are assured that the country is neutral and will not be influenced by the United States," Mullah Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the chief deputy to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, told a news conference in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush vowed to lead America through "one of the darkest moments in our history" while ensuring terrorism does not derail his domestic agenda.
"Let me be clear about this: We will win the war on terrorism, and we will also continue to fight important battles at home," Mr. Bush told the American Society of Anesthesiologists in a speech delivered by videotape in New Orleans.

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