Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hain Lists Successes - with One Exception

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hain Lists Successes - with One Exception

Article excerpt


THE Government today hailed a range of successes in the fight against terrorism since the 11 September disaster - but acknowledged that the prime target, Osama bin Laden, is nowhere to be found.

Europe Minister Peter Hain published a list of "100 points" in the 100 days since the attacks on America. They ranged from the setting up of an interim government in Afghanistan and new freedoms for women since the fall of the Taliban to "10 reasons why Bin Laden and al Qaeda are guilty".

Mr Hain, in a briefing at 10 Downing Street, acknowledged there was much still to do and went on: "Our aim is to bring Osama bin Laden and his key associates to justice and there will be no let up."

Asked, however, whether the coalition had any idea about Bin Laden's whereabouts, he replied that the situation was "very complicated".

American commanders have conceded they have no idea whether Bin Laden is still in Afghanistan, and if so where, or whether he has fled to neighbouring Pakistan or farther afield.

Mr Hain said: "We are still assessing every intelligence report that we get and will act on that information when we are in a position to do so."

The Minister added that a UN Security Council resolution authorising the British-led stability force should be ready "within a day or so". And he shrugged off suggestions that there could be confusion and danger as a consequence of a peacekeeping force entering the country while others were still engaged in fighting.

"I am very confident people on the ground will welcome our presence and our commitment to help build a decent future for them," he said.

Nevertheless, planners of the peacekeeping operation say the advance guard of Britain's force have to get to Kabul in the next 36 hours or the whole peace mission is in danger of failing, barely before it has begun. …

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