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Bush: Bin Laden seeking nuclear bomb

bush on a screen
Bush addressed the conference via a video link  

WARSAW, Poland -- U.S. President George W. Bush says that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network is "seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons."

"Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation, and eventually, to civilization itself," Bush said, speaking via satellite to the International Conference on Terrorism in Warsaw, Poland.

East European leaders from 17 states gathered to discuss security co-operation and present a show of solidarity with the international coalition.

The host, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, said: "What afflicted the American nation could afflict any nation, anyone. We would like to show our solidarity in this fight against evil."

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East Europeans hope their support will help extend the eastward enlargement of NATO and the European Union.

In his address, Bush said the military campaign in Afghanistan and the war against terror were "making good progress in a just cause". And he stressed: "We are not targeting civilians."

In a reference to the fascist and communist regimes in the 20th Century, Bush added: "Today, our freedom is threatened once again."

He said the U.S. military was "systemically pursuing" its mission with terrorist training camps destroyed, air defences taken out and communication links severed.

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Bush added: "Like the fascists and totalitarians before them, the Taliban regime, the al Qaeda and other terrorists try and impose their radical views through threats and violence.

"We see the same intolerance of dissent, the same mad global ambitions, the same brutal determination to control every life and all of life.

"We have seen the true nature of these terrorists and the nature of their attacks. They kill thousands of innocent people and then rejoice about it.

"They kill fellow Muslims, many of whom died in the World Trade Center that terrible morning, and than they gloat."

Kwasniewski said East European heads of state would debate tightening control on movements of people, information and money to make it harder for terrorists to use the region to penetrate Western Europe and the United States.

A senior security official from Russia joined the East European leaders, whose ex-communist states have been moving at varying speeds into the Western camp since the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago.

Poland has admitted its territory was crossed by agents linked to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the deadly plane attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington.

Mohammed Atta, one of the suspected suicide pilots, also visited the Czech Republic capital Prague at least once this year for meetings with an Iraqi intelligence agent who has since been expelled.

Kwasniewski pledged tighter controls on movements and money  

Heads of state from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Macedonia and Hungary were taking part. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina sent senior government representatives.

Washington was represented by the State Department's counter-terrorism chief, Frank Taylor.

Observers also attended from Russia, Belarus, Turkey, the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a message of support. "Your conference will send us a very important signal that Europe is united across the broadest possible front," he said.


• Poland

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