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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Blair puts pressure on Taleban
Bin Laden teeshirts on sail in Thailand
Support for Bin Laden is strong in some parts of the world
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned the Taleban authorities in Afghanistan they should be in no doubt about the resolve and strength of the growing international coalition against terrorism.


Military conflict there will be unless the Taleban change and respond to the ultimatum that has been so clearly delivered to them.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Mr Blair said military conflict was inevitable if the Taleban did not hand over the Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden, who is accused by the US of organising the devastating suicide attacks on New York and Washington two weeks ago.

The US strengthened its coalition on Tuesday when Saudi Arabia, one of only two Arab countries to have recognised Taleban rule, announced it was severing diplomatic ties with the regime.

Pakistan is now the only country to recognise the Taleban, which faces imminent attacks by US-led forces over its refusal to hand Bin Laden over.

Tony Blair
Blair says the Taleban must hand over the main suspect
US President George W Bush has been briefing leaders of Congress on the US military deployments within striking distance of Afghanistan, telling them not to expect a conventional war.

He also discussed co-operation with the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

In other developments:

  • Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar accuses the United States of committing what he calls atrocities against the Muslim world
  • Interpol issues a warrant for the arrest of Egyptian militant Ayman al-Zawahri, believed to be Bin Laden's top deputy

  • Pakistan warns against imposing a government on Afghanistan if the Taleban regime were to fall

  • The United Nations is to resume food aid shipments to northern and western Afghanistan for the first time since the attacks on New York and Washington

  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw agrees to show Iran evidence linking Bin Laden with the attacks on the US

  • The Group of Seven industrialised nations vows to pursue a comprehensive strategy to disrupt terrorist funding
The Taleban maintain that they do not know the whereabouts of Bin Laden, and he has disclaimed any responsibility for the attacks, which killed more than 6,800 people.

Click here for a map of possible targets

The Saudi decision to sever relations comes three days after the United Arab Emirates, the other Arab state to have recognised the Taleban, severed ties with Kabul.


The Taleban Government is still continuing to use its land to harbour, arm and encourage... criminals in carrying out terrorist attacks

Saudi statement
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia said the Taleban "used its territory to attract young and inexperienced men from all nationalities, especially from Saudi Arabia, to carry out criminal acts that violate all religions and refused to hand over these criminals to justice".

The kingdom said it would continue to stand by fellow Muslims in Afghanistan.

The Saudi Government is still apparently resisting US pressure to allow American fighter planes to use its bases for an attack on Afghanistan.

Correspondents say this is one of the most serious sticking points in the building of the US coalition that includes the Gulf States.

Pakistani President Pervez Mursharraf has denied he is under international pressure to sever ties with the Taleban authorities, adding that he could see no requirement to break the relationship.

Russian support

Earlier, US Secretary of State Colin Powell welcomed a Russian offer of support for US operations in Afghanistan, including the use of former Soviet airbases in central Asia.

Mr Powell said he was "very pleased" with Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to widen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
President Putin
Putin - has consulted his neighbours widely

President Putin has further increased the pressure on the Taleban by saying that Russia would offer more arms and other supplies to the Northern Alliance, the group fighting the Taleban in northern Afghanistan.

The BBC's correspondent in Moscow, Caroline Wyatt, says Mr Putin's most important offer to the US was to allow it and its allies to use former Soviet airbases in the countries surrounding Afghanistan.

Mr Putin said that those states, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, shared Russia's position.

And Russia will offer further pooling of intelligence, the president said, prior to leaving on a visit to Germany on Tuesday.



Back to top

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"This is only the start of a strange new kind of war"
The BBC's James Robbins
on the gathering strength of the US-led coalition
UK PM Tony Blair
says the Taleban face military action unless they hand over Bin Laden
See also:

25 Sep 01 | Middle East
Saudi statement in full
25 Sep 01 | Europe
A significant step for Russia
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
22 Sep 01 | Business
Terror attacks shares probe
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
24 Sep 01 | Business
Will Bush's asset freeze work?
16 Sep 01 | Americas
Analysis: Building a coalition
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