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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Briefs Congress On U.S. Deployment

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush briefed congressional leaders Tuesday on U.S. troop deployments around the globe and scored a diplomatic victory when Saudi Arabia cut its ties with the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

"I think the war aims are clear," House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt said after meeting with Bush and other lawmakers at the White House. "In a way, it's meeting guerrilla warfare with guerrilla warfare, but it's also meeting it with financial efforts, and political efforts, and diplomatic efforts."

Gephardt said Bush was taking the right approach in targeting terrorist cells rather than civilians. He said that removing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan is not necessarily a goal.

"I don't think it's anybody's goal to topple governments in this," Gephardt said. However, he added, the fact that the Taliban is supportive of Osama bin Laden "gives us real pause, and obviously we'd like to change that position on their part."

Also in the meeting were House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott. The leaders discussed airport security measures, including Gephardt's idea of putting military police or reservists on planes "so that every passenger has a feeling of confidence to go back on the airplanes."

Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as his country's role in the looming conflict becomes more clear. Japan will send warships to the Indian Ocean as early as this week to carry out intelligence and surveillance missions, two Japanese newspapers reported. The squadron may accompany the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier that left its base near Tokyo on Friday, the reports said.

Bush, in a letter to Congress on Monday, broadly outlined how forces already have been deployed in the Middle East and Asian and Pacific regions. "It is not now possible to predict the scope and duration of these deployments and the actions necessary to counter the terrorist threat to the United States," Bush wrote.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned the Taliban that it would become the enemy of the West if it did not hand over bin Laden.

Blair gave his clearest indication to date that the Afghan regime could be toppled by the growing international coalition against terrorism if it does not meet demands to extradite bin Laden.

"The Taliban regime know exactly what they need to do," Blair told reporters. "They could do it perfectly easily. They could act at any point in time," he said.

"If they stand in the way of bringing bin Laden to account, they are every bit as much our enemy as bin Laden himself," he added.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was in Iran on Tuesday and said at a news conference that the two countries "stand together in opposing terrorism of that kind [that occurred in New York and Washington]."

Iran supports the Northern Alliance, which has been fighting Taliban troops to try to take strategic areas north of the capital, Kabul. Straw, who was accompanied by 17 senior British diplomats during his one-day visit to Tehran, had been expected to see what -- if any -- support Iran was willing to lend the United States and its allies.

Iran has maintained the United Nations should lead any alliance against terrorism. There was no immediate sign Tuesday of any change in that position.

The head of the European Union's executive body, Romano Prodi, will join an EU delegation heading to Washington this week for talks with Bush, his office said Tuesday. Prodi will travel Thursday with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

NATO defense ministers, solidly behind the United States in its war on terrorism, are eager to hear at their informal session Wednesday precisely how the Americans plan to strike the first blow.