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Aired November 27, 2001 - 04:29   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Tuesday. I'm Susan Freidman.

SHARON FRAME, CO-HOST: And I'm Sharon Frame.

Even as military strikes continue in Afghanistan, plans for that country's future get underway. Now we will tell you about a crucial meeting set to begin in Bonn, Germany.

FREIDMAN: But first, we turn our focus to Konduz and another major defeat for the Taliban. Konduz, which was the last Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan, is officially in the hands of opposition forces. Coalition military efforts now are shifting to southern Afghanistan. The Pentagon says about 500 U.S. Marines arrived near Kandahar Monday and more are on the way. The Taliban reportedly still have a firm grip on parts of Kandahar, but the latest military and diplomatic activity is putting pressure on them to surrender. Jim Clancy will bring us details from the Afghan-Pakistani border in a minute.

First, CNN's Jamie McIntyre updates us on the military campaign.


(voice-over): Hundreds of U.S. Marines have taken over a remote desert airstrip in southern Afghanistan -- the same airstrip that was checked out last month by U.S. Army rangers. But while the rangers stayed only a few hours, the Marines are planning to be there for awhile.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They are not an occupying force. Their purpose is to establish a forward base of operations to help pressure the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, to prevent Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists from moving freely about the country.

MCINTYRE: Pentagon sources say within a day or two, more than 1,000 Marines will have moved from their ships in the Arabian Sea into Afghanistan, with some helicopters stopping to refuel at a base in Pakistan.

Much of their heavy weaponry and supplies will be off-loaded to Pakistan and flown in by C-130, according to Pentagon sources.

COL. PETER MILLER, CHIEF OF STAFF TASK FORCE: Now in short order, you'll have 1,000-plus Marines in the backyard of the Taliban within two days.

MCINTYRE: In the north, the Taliban has lost control of Konduz. But some captured prisoners are still fighting. This Pentagon video shows a rocket-propelled grenade fired from an old forth in nearby Mazar-e Sharif, used by the Northern Alliance to hold Taliban prisoners. A second video shows the U.S. response, one of a series of airstrikes that were used to quell the revolt.

Hundreds were killed before the uprising was put down. And five U.S. special forces were seriously injured by friendly fire, after an airstrike they called in hit too close to their position.

(on camera): With Kandahar now the last Taliban stronghold, the United States is sharpening its focus on getting both Osama bin Laden, who is still in hiding, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader who Pentagon officials describe as digging in for a fight to the death.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.



JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven Taliban fighters with their distinctive black headdress tried to get into Pakistan but were forced back. No documents, explained a border policeman.

Moments earlier, the Taliban shyly tried to fend off suggestions they were escaping the battle but admitted U.S. air strikes were making things difficult. A Taliban commander was allowed entry into Pakistan. He told me the Taliban was now, for the first time, willing to negotiate with their ethnic Pashtun rivals for a peaceful hand over of power.

"Definitely, we will negotiate," said Najibullah, "but there is a difference of opinion."

The Taliban commander then departed for what Pakistani police said were consultations inside Pakistan with senior Taliban officials. Those officials are reported to be staying inside Pakistan and they may make the final decision whether to give up.

Many of those making their way across the border told us the anti-Taliban forces of former Kandahar Governor Gual Agha cut the road leading to the last Taliban stronghold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The road is blocked but there is no possibility to go to a city because the middle of the road there is their enemy (UNINTELLIGIBLE). CLANCY: One after another of the travelers reaching Pakistan spoke of heavy air strikes and reports of U.S. forces on the ground, but there were no eyewitnesses to that presence.

(on camera): Every person who crosses this border from Afghanistan seems to bring along with them new rumors, new interpretations of facts on the ground. Much of it, especially the military movements, have to be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, a pattern is emerging about the mood of people on the other side.

Are the people happy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they were real happy. They were happy, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean the local people were (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CLANCY: But the Taliban are still there?


CLANCY: What kind of a mood are they in?


CLANCY: What kind of a mood are the Taliban in? Are they angry? Are they happy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they are angry , yes.

CLANCY (voice-over): The normal appearance of border traffic obscured a growing sense of concern about what happens next. Hundreds of people with the right documents were able to cross. Ambulances brought wounded and injured Afghans into Pakistan for treatment. More than 150 tons of rice rumbled northward. All the while, Pakistani troops maintained a vigil at the border, backed up by a stream of reinforcements still arriving.

How long until the end? Still difficult to tell, but the consensus of opinion this day was sooner rather than later.

Jim Clancy, CNN, at the Afghan-Pakistan border.


FRAME: A very important conference regarding Afghanistan's political future is kicking off. The United Nations has brought several Afghan groups together to try to map out a broad-based interim government. Now the meeting is taking place at a hotel near Bonn, Germany.

Our Joel Hochmuth has more on the meetings, the players involved and the pressures they face.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Delegates from various factions in Afghanistan are arriving in Germany for talks that will hopefully lay the foundation for a new government for their country. Official meetings get underway today amid a sense of urgency.

AHMAD FAWZI, U.N. SPOKESMAN: We need to get a transitional authority in the country as soon as possible. And all the parties agree that this is imperative, that speed is of the essence.

HOCHMUTH: No one is predicting it will be easy. Afghanistan is home to about 20 different ethnic groups. Many have been at war with each other for decades. The four largest include the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras all scattered across the country.

To complicate things further, loyalties between groups often change. For instance, the Northern Alliance, which has swept to power in much of Afghanistan over the past weeks, is made up largely of Tajiks and Uzbeks. But until they found a common enemy in the Taliban, many of the political factions within the Alliance were at war with each other. Loyalty among tribes is often determined not by a common ideology but money.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The idea is that you find out who the winning side is going to be and you offer them something they need and they pay you the price and it's worthwhile to change side. And of course that's one of the problems that we're going to be dealing with here with the Northern Alliance.

HOCHMUTH: The Northern Alliance's archenemy, the Taliban, are largely Pashtuns, but not all Pashtuns support the Taliban. And even some Taliban fighters have reportedly been seen embracing advancing Northern Alliance troops.

CLARK: Here ethnic groups are important, but they've been split and some parts of an ethnic group might have fought with the Taliban and other parts might have fought against the Taliban. And so some of these people may be not only neighbors, they may be in-laws, they may be related some way and they recognize each other. So it's one of the forces that could bring this country together and provide some hope for the future.

HOCHMUTH: In Germany, the largest delegation represents Burhannudin Rabbani, one-time president of Afghanistan and leader of the Northern Alliance. He was tossed out by the Taliban but still holds title to the country's seat at the U.N. Ethnically he's a Tajik, but the ethnic politics aren't always so simple. For example, the exiled King Zahir Shah, who fled Afghanistan following a coup in 1973, is a Pashtun, but many of that ethnic group say that he is out of touch, that he doesn't speak for them and that they're left out of the current talks.

FAWZI: This is the best we could do at this stage, and it's only a first step on a very long road to achieving the ultimate goal of a fully representative, broad-based, multi-ethnic government. HOCHMUTH: Afghan exile groups backed by Pakistan and Iran will also be represented, but there will be no one from the Taliban. No one knows whether the talks will last days or weeks, but in any case, U.N. officials are quick to lower expectations.

FAWZI: We can't be totally confident that we're going to get an agreement. I think it's quite an achievement that we're getting the parties together at all at this stage. There are differences. We are trying to reconcile these differences. This is going to -- the measure of the success of this meeting will be if we can come up with a formula for a transitional administration for Afghanistan.

HOCHMUTH: Trying to get such a variety of ethnic interests to agree to share power in Afghanistan is a daunting challenge. And what about the role of women in a society long dominated by men?

We get more on that question from Harris Whitbeck.



HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-year-old Mina arrives at Kabul's Institute of Medicine to resume her education. It's been five years since she walked these halls, five years during which the Taliban regime deprived her of an education, deprived her of the right to be in public without a veil shrouding her face.

She lifted the veil to speak to me, a foreign reporter, two weeks after the Taliban fled the Afghan capital.

(on camera): Does it feel strange to be walking without the veil?

MINA, AFGHAN RESIDENT: And because I am afraid. I think that some Talibans in front of me and they are beating me. It is scary because of that.

WHITBECK: Yes. Yes. But when you become -- when you start studying, you will have to study without the veil.

MINA: Yes, yes, I am very happy.

WHITBECK (voice-over): But she quickly put the veil into place when some Afghan men appeared.

WHITBECK (on camera): What do you feel when have you to do that?

MINA: When I pick up my...


WHITBECK: When you have to put it back on so suddenly.

MINA: It's very difficult for me. I'm afraid for too much because I -- you don't know how much it was difficult for us before.

WHITBECK (voice-over): Freedom to dress as they please, to gain an education and to work.

(on camera): Women in Afghanistan are hoping the new government will allow it. But women's rights groups here fear they are not adequately represented at the talks that might very well determine the country's political future.

(voice-over): Two women are part of the Afghan delegation heading to the talks in Bonn, Germany. And the Afghan foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, says women's rights will be on the table. But Soria Partlika , who heads a women's rights group, isn't too convinced.

She says the women delegates to Bonn were not in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime and do not know firsthand how much women suffered.

Mina, the medical student, does. And while she has high hopes in the government that will be formed, she is really only counting on herself to achieve the education she so desperately wants.

MINA: Yes, I wish to work. And now I decided to work from 5:00 of morning until 10:00 of night because I stayed at home five years. I want to make it...


WHITBECK: Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


FREIDMAN: Mixed signals on the economy as the holiday shopping season got underway, consumers were buying but there were fewer shoppers in America's malls. Meantime, a widely respected economic group has officially declared the U.S. in recession. Any sign of a quick recovery disappeared after September 11.

Brooks Jackson looks back at the history of the economic slowdown.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last March, eToys was filing for bankruptcy, Cisco Systems was announcing layoffs, the Federal Reserve was slashing interest rates for the third time, President Bush, only a few weeks in office, was lobbying through a huge tax cut and now we know the U.S. was really entering a true recession.

(on camera): The announcement came by e-mail Monday morning from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They're an elite group of economists from the university world that other economists look to to date the start of economic booms and recessions. (voice-over): Looking back, the boom started, slowly at first, during the last Bush administration, gained steam under Bill Clinton, spawned a dot-com craze and talk of a new economy not governed by old rules of supply and demand, sent stocks soaring, then crashing and lasted exactly 10 years making it the longest since records began in 1854. Politicians have been talking about the possibility of a recession for a while.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we may well be on the front edge of a recession here.

JACKSON: But the recession actually started, according to the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee, when the total number of jobs in the U.S., total employment started going down last March. That, they said, was the key factor.

The media usually define a recession as six months of negative economic growth, but the committee has a more refined definition -- calling for a significant decline in activity spread across the economy lasting more than a few months, visible not only in employment but also in industrial production, real income after adjusting for inflation and wholesale/retail trade.

The attacks of September 11 may have been the critical factor, even though they came months after an economic slowdown had begun. The committee said, "Before the attacks, it is possible that the decline in the economy would have been too mild to qualify as a recession."

The announcement comes amid signs the worst may already be over, as the president himself restated after Monday's recession announcement.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got low interest rates, we've got reasonable energy prices, we've got good tax policy in place. We've got the framework for economic recovery.

JACKSON: How long will this recession last? Until the end of World War I, the average recession lasted nearly two years, but they've grown shorter in recent years. Since World War II, the average recession has lasted 11 months. And this one already has lasted eight months.

(on camera): Shorter recessions and longer booms, an encouraging historic trend. Just think, the last recession announcement was so long ago e-mail wasn't available, they faxed it.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


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FREIDMAN: As we continue our series, "The Other Side of Africa," we take you to a country you probably haven't heard much about recently, Rwanda. The small country is located in east central Africa. It's a poor, densely populated nation. The country lost millions of people during its long and bloody civil war. The violence took many lives and led many people to flee to neighboring countries. Brutal fighting took place between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. But now Rwanda is at peace, and the government is trying to resettle many of its displaced citizens.

This week, a six-day conference on genocide opened in Rwanda, a conference designed to heal the wounds of war. That healing can already be seen as you will learn in our next report. While the story we bring you is a hopeful one, we warn you that it contains a gruesome history.

Rudi Bakhtiar visited a village where there is just one tribe now, Rwandan.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in the quite Nelson Mandela Village 50 miles south of Kigali, Hutu and Tutsis alike are lining up for recess, an image unthinkable just two years ago.

RUTAGENAWA PIERRE CONISIUS, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL (through translator): Some of the kids are from this village but some come from near Consinsi outside the village.

BAKHTIAR: One hundred and fifty-two children, ages ranging from 7 to 15 years old, with one thing in common.

CONISIUS (through translator): They are all Rwandans, no Hutu, no Tutsi.

BAKHTIAR: It's exactly that model that enables these children after years of genocide and war tore their communities apart to learn together, laugh together and heal together. To drive home that message, the school's principal wouldn't even let us ask whether the kids were Hutu or Tutsi.

Thirteen-year-old Fabrice Rukundo's whole family was killed. He was adopted and brought here by a woman who had lost all her family too. He remembers moving here from Kigali in 1997 with her and he says he's happy to be here and hopes to become a journalist when he grows up.

Fourteen-year-old Elise McGandwa moved here from Uganda in 1995 and likes living in the village.

ELISE MCGANDWA, AGE 14 (through translator): I'm happy here because I'm in my country.

BAKHTIAR: The Nelson Mandela Village was started in 1996 by UNESCO as an example of unity and reconciliation among Rwandans. Here 180 families, genocide orphans, its widows, its refugees struggle together to put the past behind them.

Fifty-six-year-old Edisa Barakagwira moved here in '94 after three of her children were killed and now earns a meager living in farming.

"It's too much," she says. She's lost three children and the oldest kids, the ones who could help her now, are the ones who were killed.

Only a few miles away, Natarama Church still houses the bones of Edisa's sisters and neighbors. So how can she now live side by side with Hutu, have her children going to school with them, making friends with them?

"What can I do," she says. She's lost her oldest children and she cannot help herself.

Edisa still has three children to think of, a 17-year-old daughter and two boys, one 12, the other 14. I asked Edisa how she would feel if one day her son or daughter told her they wanted to marry a Hutu.

"It's not a problem," she says. All she wants now is peace.

And for the sake of her children, like others here, she must bury the past inside her so that the next generation has a chance at a better future.


FREIDMAN: One way of rebuilding a society is by educating it. Rudi continued her travel in Rwanda and met a young man who made education his mission in life after the civil war. The violence took his two older brothers but it didn't take away his will to learn.


INNOCENT BAGAMBA, PACEM IN TERRIS INSTUTUTE GRADUATE: Mr. President, I would like to inform you that we've come back to join you in that effort to build our country.

BAKHTIAR: Though he was born in Uganda, Innocent Bagamba is a child of Rwanda, a quintessential product of his time. Shortly before he was born, his parents fled Rwanda's decade-long ethnic struggles. The family eventually returned but left him with an aunt in Uganda so he could stay in school or what passed for school then.

BAGAMBA: My first class was under a tree -- under the shade of a tree. We used to get stones, sit on the stones or we'd just go into the bush and cut a tree then try to make kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of a chair. BAKHTIAR: But during the genocide of 1994, Innocent himself returned to Rwanda, fearing for his family's safety.

BAGAMBA: It was -- it was all difficult because there are all dead bodies around here. You'd walk, just step in here, step you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) don't step on a body.

BAKHTIAR: Hours later, Innocent would learn that his two older brothers had been killed, two of thousands.

BAGAMBA: The first two hours I didn't feel anything. It was -- I felt like I was just blank, my mind. I didn't feel anything. I didn't react to it. But then when I sat down (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that's when I went through the ordeal of looking at how they must have died after going through all the scenes I saw. Then I started looking at them and said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sort of said why did they die? Why didn't I die instead? Now that was the cornerstone of my whole life because it changed dramatically . Say to myself (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reason why I didn't die was I was meant for something. I was left behind because there was something that I had to fulfill.

BAKHTIAR: And so he dared to dream of studying in America, though his family and friends were more than skeptical.

BAGAMBA: They said are you crazy, how are you going to be able to do that? Your parents are poor, they don't have that much money to take (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I said you don't know what you're talking about. I'll go there. I don't know how I go but I'll get there.

BAKHTIAR: It was this man's brainchild called Pacem In Terris Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that would fulfil Innocent's dream.

MONSIGNOR WILLIAM KERR, PRESIDENT, LA ROCHE COLLEGE: It's an educational foundation that affords college-aged women and men college education, baccalaureate degrees. They promise in turn to come back to their homelands. They come from lands of conflict, lands of genocide, then they go home and build better homes and better homelands.

BAKHTIAR: Pacem In Terris is Latin for peace on earth. The institute at La Roche College was established by the school's president Monsignor William Kerr to provide the opportunity for an education to outstanding students from countries affected by war and political unrest.

KERR: We look for young people that are going to be leaders and that who really want to make a contribution.

BAKHTIAR: The students are selected by college in collaboration with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

KERR: Young people who are affected by genocide or conflict, they don't live in a culture of abundance, they live in a culture of suffering and deprivation. And each one of these students has a story that's extraordinary and yet they have a spirit that transcends what might have been a devastating experience for others.

BAKHTIAR: The program was launched in 1993 with the arrival of 26 students from Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia. But it has since expanded to include 270 scholars from 17 different countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Innocent Bagamba.


BAKHTIAR: Innocent is one of the first Rwandans to graduate from La Roche College since Rwanda joined the program four years ago, all a part of an attempt by the country's president to improve the standard of living of its citizens.

PAUL KAGAME, PRESIDENT OF RWANDA: Rwanda does not have many natural resources so we think as a matter of priority we have to enable our people to acquire skills, to acquire knowledge and based on that you can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) skills acquired by its people and that's how La Roche College becomes extremely important.

KERR: Innocent, almost from the beginning, sort of stood out. He always, and I tell him this, had something to say. It didn't matter, he had something to say. So one day I said, you know, Innocent, you have all the natural ingredients to be a leader. You really have to begin exercising leadership and you have to just keep that word leader in mind.

BAKHTIAR: But the opportunity to study in the United States has not come without a price for Innocent.

BAGAMBA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) heavy burden on my shoulders. I have to make a difference. I have to at least show that there's something that I got outside, bring it back here, because I owe my country and all the people something.

BAKHTIAR: Beyond adopting many Western ways, a love for French fires, video games and remote controls, he says he has learned something more profound from American culture.

BAGAMBA: No. 1 is work and work hard. If our people get that attitude of working and working hard then respect for others and time management.

BAKHTIAR: And how would he like his country to change?

BAGAMBA: Education, I'd like to see education grow. I'd like to see economic changes and more importantly, I would like to see people get together and understand that they are one and walk together and support their country not look at the tribal or political differences. Put the in front the fact that they are all Rwandese and they all need to live here (UNINTELLIGIBLE) live peacefully together with each other.

BAKHTIAR: Rudi Bakhtiar, CNN, Kigali, Rwanda.


FREIDMAN: A truly inspiring story.

FRAME: Absolutely.

FREIDMAN: Now get your passports ready, tomorrow we're taking you to a place often described as the farthest place on earth to which a person can travel.

FRAME: And, Susan, it'll be a trip you'll never forget. So you won't want to miss that.

Until then, have a great day.

FREIDMAN: See you tomorrow.




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