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Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Powell maps US terrorism strategy
F-14A Tomcat jet on carrier USS Enterprise
The US wants to avoid a violent regional backlash
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has outlined a phased strategy on terrorism, which begins with the targeting of Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaida organisation in Afghanistan.

I think in the near future, we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him [Bin Laden] to this attack

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Mr Powell also said that the government would in the next few days put before the world and the American people a "persuasive" case that al-Qaida was responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington.

And he dismissed fears that American forces could get trapped in Afghanistan, saying the US military was aware of the history of foreign armies in Afghanistan

Colin Powell
Powell: Dismissed fears of forces getting trapped
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that the US had lost an unmanned spy plane over Afghanistan following Taleban claims to have shot down a plane on Saturday.

But Pentagon officials were unable to verify a second, similar Taleban claim made on Sunday.

Bin Laden 'missing'

"I don't think we should even consider a large-scale war at this point," Mr Powell said on US television.

He was scornful of reports that Bin Laden - named as the chief suspect in the 11 September suicide attacks on the United States - had gone missing.

Click here for map showing military build-up

Earlier, Taleban officials were quoted as saying Bin Laden - whom they have refused to hand over to the US - had disappeared.

In other developments:

  • The foreign ministers of six Arab Gulf states have pledged "complete" support for fighting terrorism but gave no details
  • US Predator spy drone
    US Predator spy drones are commonly used for low-level reconnaissance
    Afghanistan's exiled former king, Zahir Shah, says he is ready to return to "serve his people"
  • Pakistan and India welcome President Bush's decision to lift US sanctions against them imposed after their tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998
  • The UN comes under intense pressure to resume wheat imports to famine-stricken Afghanistan
  • Tens of thousands of New Yorkers take part in a prayer service for the victims of the attacks
  • Taleban officials say more than 100,000 people are being trained and armed to face possible attack
  • The head of Israeli military intelligence, Major-General Amos Malka, says he sees no direct link between Iraq and the suicide attacks in the US.

The US secretary of state dismissed concerns that Pakistan could be destabilised by its government's support for the US anti-terrorism campaign.

Mr Powell said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was supported by his military commanders and government.

"So I'm confident Pakistan will remain stable, and I have no concerns about their nuclear programme," he added.

Military build-up

US forces are continuing to mass in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

US defence officials say more warplanes are being sent to bases or aircraft-carriers near Afghanistan, adding to the estimated 350 planes already in the region.

Five thousand extra air national guard and air force reservists have been called up, bringing the total number to 15,000.

Meanwhile, the UK defence ministry has played down newspaper reports that crack SAS troops are already inside Afghanistan working with the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance.

US officials said President Vladimir Putin assured Mr Bush that Russia would co-operate in any US efforts against Bin Laden and would not oppose any similar help from ex-Soviet states in Central Asia.

Click here to return

The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"President Bush is concentrating on the battles ahead"
The BBC's Humphrey Hawksley
describes the sort of evidence Colin Powell will produce against Osama bin Laden
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
"There are a lot of people in the Taleban who do not support al-Qaida"
See also:

23 Sep 01 | Middle East
Gulf states back US
23 Sep 01 | Business
Sanctions boost for Pakistan economy
23 Sep 01 | Americas
US offers prayers for the dead
23 Sep 01 | Americas
Clinton ordered Bin Laden killing
22 Sep 01 | South Asia
Aid shortage adds to Afghan woes
22 Sep 01 | Middle East
UAE cuts ties with Taleban
16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
23 Sep 01 | Americas
Flight passengers hailed as heroes
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