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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 17:05 GMT
UK hails anti-terror progress
The clean-up operation at ground zero
Work continues at ground zero, 100 days on
Global progress against terror in the 100 days since 11 September had gone "further, faster than anyone dared think possible", according to a UK government report.

The report is published as 53 British Royal Marines landed in Afghanistan as the lead party for the new international peacekeeping force.

What we cannot afford to do is turn our backs on Afghanistan at this critical juncture

Peter Hain
Foreign Office Minister
Company commander Major Matt Jones said his mission would start on Friday, when his troops would escort VIPs arriving at Bagram airport and travelling to Kabul for Saturday's ceremony setting up the new interim government.

Although the International Security Assistance Force has yet to be officially created through a United Nations mandate, the Marines will essentially form the basis of that force.

Earlier, UK Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain, hailed the steps already taken in the campaign on terror as he unveiled the new report.

Mr Hain said: "If on the afternoon of 11 September we had predicted this progress we would not have been believed."

Suspects detained

Both the US and UK are publishing reports into what has been done to fight terror since the New York atrocities.

The UK document outlines the action taken domestically and in the EU to improve measures for arresting and detaining terrorist suspects.

Osama Bin Laden
The US report will focus on the hunt for Bin Laden
British police are now using new emergency anti-terror laws allowing the detention of foreign nationals without trial, with eight suspects already held.

In the US, George Bush has proposed some terror suspects be tried by secret military tribunals, a move vociferously attacked by civil liberties campaigners.

But both the British and the US governments are anxious to demonstrate significant progress has been made in tackling terrorism.

US determination

"We want to chalk up some of our successes," said a Downing Street spokesman.

President Bush will use his report to renew the United States' determination to bring Bin Laden to justice.

Together with Tony Blair, he will stress the action that still has to be taken to dismantle terrorist networks around the world.

The UK Government report emphasises the co-operation which has been achieved within the EU through the introduction of a European arrest warrant and a common definition of terrorism.

George Bush, US President
Bush is launching a parallel terror report
Mr Blair has always maintained he stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Mr Bush and the US in pursuing those responsible for the 11 September attacks.

And a contingent of 1,500 British troops will be the lead element in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the multinational peacekeeping force operating out of Kabul.

But with speculation continuing that the UK and US may diverge if the war on terror is widened, Mr Blair and the Foreign Office will be at pains to stress the joint approach to fighting terror.

'Critical juncture'

Mr Hain said he believed the peacekeeping force would be welcomed by the people in Afghanistan.

He also said the time was right to rebuild the country: "What we cannot afford to do is turn our back on Afghanistan at this critical juncture.

"If we did turn our back on them we would simply create circumstances in which exactly the same disintegration and the conflict and instability could be created in which terrorism would then revisit us from somewhere in Afghanistan in the future."

Asked how the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was progressing and whether he was still in Afghanistan Mr Hain replied: "We are still assessing every intelligence report that we get and will act on that information when we are in a position to do so."

The BBC's Nicholas Jones
"Together with Tony Blair, Bush will stress the action that still has to be taken"
UK Foreign Office minister Peter Hain MP
"What we cannot afford to do is turn our backs on Afghanistan"
See also:

20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Afghan aid 'not getting through'
20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
War on Terror: 100 days
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