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EDITIONS
World at One Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 14:57 GMT
Mixed messages
Tony Blair and George Bush
Talking at cross purposes?
Tony Blair flies to Washington to discuss the war again with President Bush, but are messages about the war getting confused?

In a series of announcements, from both sides of the Atlantic, there has been a remarkable lack of clarity or consistency about the war's purposes or achievements.

For example, during an interview on CNN's Larry King Live programme, Mr Blair said that the Taleban and al-Qaeda were virtually the same organisation.

But the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said that some supporters of the Taleban had been coerced into the position and were afraid of "a bullet in the back". They therefore could participate in a broad-based government after the war.

Achievements so far?

On the destruction of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, Jack Straw gave a news conference at RAF Northolt, on October 29th before flying off to a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. He spoke about the "almost complete degradation" of the al-Qaeda training facilities.

But yesterday President Bush stressed that al-Qaeda remained a very potent threat, particularly in relation to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons: "Given the means our enemies would be a threat to every nation."

Air superiority

And on the issue of when the war would move from bombing to ground troops, on October 9th - just two days after the first bombs fell, the chairman of the US chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, said, "essentially we have air superiority over Afghanistan."

Daisy cutters are an appropriate and entirely conventional weapon

Geoff Hoon
But this morning, British Foreign Office Minister, Peter Hain, was asked about when and whether ground troops would replace bombs. He said it was impossible to use ground troops without having established air superiority.

Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, responded to this question of confusion in the message, along with criticisms of the use of "daisy cutter" large bombs in the campaign in Afghanistan.


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Geoff Hoon:
"There is an entirely consistent approach to this"
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