Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Poll Numbers Down....Bin Laden Matters Now ?

Bush Confident Bin Laden Will Be Captured

Bush Vows to Stand by Afghanistan Democracy, Says He's Confident Osama Bin Laden Will Be Caught

U.S. President George W. Bush, left, shakes hands with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai during a press conference after making a surprise visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 1, 2006. Bush said Wednesday he remains confident Osama bin Laden "will be brought to justice" despite a so-far futile five-year hunt. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

By TERENCE HUNT AP White House Correspondent

KABUL, Afghanistan Mar 1, 2006 (AP)— President Bush, on an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, vowed Wednesday to stand by this emerging democracy despite a resurgence of violence, promising the United States will "not cut and run."

He also sought to rally U.S. troops and express solidarity with the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Standing alongside Karzai outside the presidential palace, Bush pledged that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and other planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks would be caught.

"It's not a matter of if they're captured and brought to justice, it's when they're brought to justice," Bush said.

It was the first presidential visit to Afghanistan since the United States routed the Taliban and began a thus far fruitless five-year search for bin laden in the region.

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding out somewhere along the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Asked about the search for bin Laden, and of the president's long-ago call for getting him "dead or alive," Bush said the search for bin Laden and his associates continues.

"I am confident he will be brought to justice," Bush said. "We've got U.S. forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden but anybody who plots and plans with bin Laden. There are Afghan forces on the hunt. … We've got Pakistan forces on the hunt."

Bush spent just over four hours on the ground during his surprise visit at the onset of a South Asia trip that was also taking him to India and Pakistan.

Bush held a working lunch with Karzai and other Afghan leaders, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Kabul and spoke to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base.

"People all over the world are watching the experience here in Afghanistan," Bush said, praising Karzai as "a friend and an ally."

Karzai took power after U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime. But Taliban insurgents and al-Qaida militants have been increasing attacks within Afghanistan in recent months.

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, told a congressional hearing in Washington on Tuesday that the insurgency was still growing and posed a greater threat to Karzai's government "than at any point since late 2001."

Remaining article and active links at : http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1674135

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