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BUSH VILIFIES TALIBAN LEADERS

President Bush condemned Afghanistan's Taliban rulers Saturday for harboring Osama bin Laden and his followers, as the United States pressed its military and diplomatic campaign against terror.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said the Taliban, not the Afghan people, would be held responsible for harboring terrorists.

"The United States respects the people of Afghanistan, and we are their largest provider of humanitarian support," he said. "But we condemn the Taliban and welcome the support of other nations in isolating that regime."

With reports circulating that American and British special forces have been active inside Afghanistan, the president increased pressure on the Taliban to turn over bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the terrorist attacks.

"We did not seek this conflict, but we will win it," Bush said. "America will act deliberately and decisively, and the cause of freedom will prevail."

In the region, Pakistani clerics urged new talks with the Taliban after returning empty-handed from Kabul, where they beseeched the Afghan government to turn over the millionaire Saudi exile and his associates now in hiding.

Instead, Taliban leaders Saturday spread out across the nation to rally their countrymen for a jihad, or holy war, against America. Soldiers practiced with Russian rifles, and anti-aircraft guns were tested even as a huge aid convoy of food and supplies started off from Pakistan for some of the poorest areas of neighboring Afghanistan on Saturday.

The United States moved more equipment to the Central Asia region, and more reservists donned uniforms after Friday's call-up. The Pentagon said the Marine Corps would mobilize 191 reservists and the Navy 250 more, raising the number of those activated to more than 16,600.

An additional 5,000 National Guardsmen were being trained for security duty at America's commercial airports.

At Camp David, Bush consulted CIA Director George Tenet, chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The White House released a photo showing the four around a table, with a map of Afghanistan in the middle.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has spelled out a policy for offering assistance to opponents of the Taliban, administration officials said Saturday.

"We do not want to choose who rules Afghanistan, but we will assist those who seek a peaceful, economically developing Afghanistan, free of terrorism," an administration official said, quoting from the policy memo.

Bush has made similar points in the past, but the memo is the first comprehensive explanation of U.S. policy, officials said Saturday.

"The Taliban (does) not represent the Afghan people, who never elected or chose the Taliban faction," one of the officials said.

Also Saturday, Bush aides worked on a plan to revive the struggling economy, including a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and tax cuts. And aides said Bush is negotiating with Democrats over an increase in the minimum wage.

Bush used the radio address to give Americans an update on anti-terrorism efforts made in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

He reviewed actions he took last week to tighten security at America's 420 civilian airports; freeze financial sources used by terrorist; deploy the U.S. armed forces to points around the globe; and round up more international support for the struggle.

"All these actions make clear, our war on terror will be much broader than the battlefields and beachheads of the past," he said. "This war will be fought wherever terrorists hide, or run, or plan."

Bush also called on Congress to give the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement groups greater powers to combat terrorism, including increased flexibility to tap suspects' telephones and computers and the ability to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without bringing formal charges against them.

Bush said FBI and CIA "agents and analysts have been on the case around the clock, uncovering and pursuing the enemy. In the long campaign ahead, they will need our continued support and every necessary tool to do their work."

Civil libertarians and many Democratic lawmakers have balked at giving police such powers.

Democrats tried to make clear Saturday that they remain supportive of the Republican president in this time of war.

Former Vice President Al Gore brought a message of unity to a Democratic fund-raiser in Des Moines, Iowa, declaring that "there are no divisions in this country" and fighting terrorism is a mission for all.

"George W. Bush is my commander in chief," Gore said, setting a solemn tone for what had been planned as his first step back into the limelight since losing the presidential election last year. "This country is more united than at any time I can remember in my lifetime."

At a news conference, former President Bill Clinton and his onetime Republican rival, Bob Dole, announced a new scholarship fund for families of those killed Sept. 11. They both praised the Bush administration for its approach so far.

On the diplomatic front, Undersecretary of State John Bolton met Saturday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov to discuss forming an international coalition to fight terrorism.

International attention has focused particularly on the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which border Afghanistan and may provide a convenient platform for U.S. strikes.

Bolton had visited government leaders in Uzbekistan the day before traveling to Moscow.

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