Blair offers Taliban ultimatum

Posted 11:30 p.m. Oct. 4

MANCHESTER, England – British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban government to “surrender the terrorists or surrender power,” firing the latest salvo in a ever-growing assault of words against the government harboring accused terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden.

Blair spoke to his Labor party at their annual conference in Brighton, assuring his fellow leaders that the only outcome of the war or terrorism would be “our victory, not theirs.”

Prime Minister Blair, who recently toured the devastation of New York’s World Trade Center, said the perpetrators of the attack had no qualms about killing innocent civilians.

“There is no compromise possible with such people, no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror,” Blair said. “There is just a choice, defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must.”

Though the warning was one of the toughest yet from a western leader, Blair gave no indication of when, where, or if a military attack would be forthcoming, saying only that if military force were to be used that the target would be Bin Laden and not the civilian population.

At the same time, U.S. envoys visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels and delivered “clear and compelling” proof that Bin Laden was linked with the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11. The NATO alliance, as promised, invoked Article 5 of their charter indicating support from all 19 member nations.

“It is clear that all roads lead to Al-Qaida and pinpoint Osama bin Laden as having been involved in it,” said NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson, who was given the evidence in a briefing by U.S. Ambassador at Large Francis Taylor.

Last month the NATO alliance agreed to invoke Article 5 of its charter for the first time if the United States could demonstrate clearly that the attacks, which leveled the World Trade Center and portions of the Pentagon, had been directed from abroad.

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