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Bush, Blair discuss Afghan strategy

Bush and Blair talk to reporters after strategy meeting.  

(CNN) -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday they were determined to defeat the Taliban and vowed that Osama bin Laden and members of his al Qaeda organization would be brought to justice.

The two leaders met at the White House to discuss strategies for the military campaign in Afghanistan, humanitarian efforts in the country and plans for a post-Taliban regime. (Full story)

Bush said the Taliban was crumbling but that the struggle would be long.

"We're patient and our good friends are patient which is bad news for the Taliban and the people they harbor," Bush said.

Blair said the international antiterrorism coalition was getting stronger as the campaign goes forward.

"From the discussions I had with European leaders just a few days ago, their commitment is real and their determination is also absolute to see this thing done," Blair said.

Blair arrived in the United States Wednesday aboard a chartered Concorde jet and is due back in London Thursday to met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier, Bush announced the United States has frozen the assets of 62 individuals and organizations suspected of providing financial support to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist organization.

The targets are part of two financial networks -- al Barakaat and al Taqwa. U.S. officials describe al Barakaat as the principal means by which al Qaeda draws and moves money around the world. (Full story)

In Afghanistan, Northern Alliance forces have made gains on the ground in northern Afghanistan with the aid of U.S. Special Forces who are coordinating air attacks against Taliban front-line troops, Pentagon and Afghan opposition officials said Wednesday.

The greatest progress reportedly has been around the crucial crossroads city of Mazar-e Sharif, a city that serves as a resupply post to Taliban elsewhere in the country.

Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said some opposition soldiers have been very aggressive, even attacking Taliban tanks on horseback in cavalry charges.

The U.S.-led military campaign -- aimed at unseating the Taliban; dismantling al Qaeda, the terrorist group accused of the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and bringing its leader, Osama bin Laden, to justice -- has reached its one-month mark. (Full story)

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Latest developments

• Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday he objects to the continuation of airstrikes against Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He warned the strikes could weaken support for the antiterrorism campaign in Islamic nations. (Full story)

• Lebanon's finance minister said Wednesday his country likely would not take steps to freeze the assets of Hezbollah because it views the group as a resistance movement, not a terrorist organization.

• Tajikistan's president told reporters Wednesday that he will allow United States troops to use two of his country's military bases if needed, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. (Full story)

• Italy will provide 2,700 troops for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, including naval, air and ground units, the country's defense minister said Wednesday. He said the majority of the forces would be involved in logistical and defensive operations, and would be placed under the direct command of the U.S. military. (Full story)

• Pakistan's foreign minister has asked the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan not to hold press conferences that malign a third country, a spokesman for the foreign minister said Wednesday. The Taliban said the request amounts to a ban, and is "suffocating the words of the Afghan people." (Full story)

• Pentagon sources said Wednesday a sailor from the USS Kitty Hawk apparently fell overboard into the Arabian Sea. At last report, the sailor had not been rescued. The Kitty Hawk is serving as a floating base for U.S. special operations troops participating in Operation Enduring Freedom.

• Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would deal with Iraq and other countries seeking weapons of mass destruction as part of the war on terrorism. He said the United States would focus on those nations after al Qaeda was defeated.

• The FBI Tuesday withdrew a warning issued last week that said terrorists might target a major bridge in a Western state. It said the information that prompted the alert was investigated and was deemed not credible. (Full story)

• The FBI received unexpectedly sharp criticism during a Senate hearing Tuesday on its handling of the anthrax sent in the U.S. mail. Tim Caruso, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said investigators had not found the source of the anthrax. "I know it's an unsatisfactory answer and unsatisfying to us as well," Caruso said. (Full story)

• Pentagon officials Tuesday denied reports that a U.S. helicopter was shot down in southwestern Pakistan. Some Pakistani officials said a helicopter crashed Sunday night as it was returning to Dalbandin air base. (Full story)

• The U.S. government has announced it is hiring more security employees on a temporary basis to improve oversight of screening checkpoints run by private contractors at airports. In a press release, the Federal Aviation Administration said the move would put more federal security workers on the job at airports in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Full story)


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