Blair to Taliban: Surrender bin Laden or surrender power
British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a stark message Tuesday to Afghanistan's Taliban leaders: Hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden or face the full wrath of the Western world.
"I say to the Taliban: Surrender the terrorists or surrender power. It is your choice," he said during a hard-hitting address to a packed Labour party conference in Brighton.
Blair said the coalition has tried to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis but blamed the Taliban for failing to respond to the overtures.
He said the action the allies would take would be targeted, aiming to avoid civilian casualties. But he said the terrorists who crashed the planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center had no such qualms.
"There is no compromise possible with such people," he said.
Vowing to put a trap around Afghanistan's rulers, he denounced the Taliban as undemocratic, accusing them of funding their war with drug money from British youth.
"This is a battle with only one outcome: Our victory, not theirs," he said, to wide applause.
Bin Laden is the main suspect behind the suicide hijackings that sent American passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. He has been living in Afghanistan as a guest of the Taliban for five years.
Shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11, the United States demanded Afghanistan hand over bin Laden, under threat of military action.
The United States continues to build up its military presence in the region surrounding Afghanistan. The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk left Tokyo on Monday.
Also on Monday, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he had given up on reaching a peaceful conclusion in the standoff, saying U.S. strikes are inevitable.