Nation & world digest 09/25/01

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Bin Laden calls on Pakistanis to fight

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terror attacks on the United States, called on Pakistan's Muslims to fight "the American crusade," according to a statement broadcast by an Arab television station.

The statement signed by bin Laden and dated Sunday did not address allegations that he masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"I announce to you, our beloved brothers, that we are steadfast on the path of jihad (holy war) with the heroic, faithful Afghan people," said the statement, which Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel said it received Monday.

Bin Laden said that he was calling on all Muslims in Pakistan to use all they possess and all their effort to stop American troops from going into Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

Putin: Russia ready to supply Afghan opposition

MOSCOW -- The Russian president on Monday opened his airspace to humanitarian flights by the anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States and said Central Asia governments had not ruled out the use of their air bases for Washington-led military action against Afghanistan.

In a speech on national television, Vladimir Putin also said Russia would intensify its support of Afghan opposition forces fighting the Taliban in the northeast of that country and was prepared to supply them with weapons and military equipment,

"We have coordinated this position with our allies among the Central Asian states. They share this position and do not rule out providing the use of their airfields," Putin said.

Senate passes free-trade agreement with Jordan

WASHINGTON -- In a timely gesture to a key Middle East friend, the Senate on Monday approved an agreement that effectively removes all trade barriers with Jordan.

The U.S.-Jordan free-trade agreement, passed by a voice vote, also commits both countries to upholding worker rights and environmental standards.

The measure, already passed by the House, implements an agreement reached between the Clinton administration and Jordan last fall. The Bush administration supports it.

Jordan's King Abdullah II, who is visiting the United States this week, has backed the U.S. anti-terrorist fight and "accordingly we should do whatever we can to reinforce Jordan's support," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Mayor: Finding any alive would take 'miracle'

NEW YORK -- Mayor Rudolph Giuliani played down chances of finding anyone alive in the World Trade Center rubble Tuesday as families and rescue workers faced the reality that many of the more than 6,000 missing victims may never be recovered.

"The chances of finding anyone will involve a miracle," Giuliani said. "Miracles have happened."

With 6,453 people listed as missing, Giuliani said the number of confirmed dead had risen by 15 people to 276 -- 206 of them identified. The rubble from the twin 110-story buildings has surrendered fewer than 20 bodies per day on average since the attack.

Stars raise more than $150 million for relief

NEW YORK -- Appeals by Hollywood actors and musicians during an unprecedented telethon last week generated more than $150 million in pledges to benefit families of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attack victims.

The money will be distributed through the United Way with no administrative costs deducted, organizers said Monday.

"America: A Tribute to Heroes" was shown on 35 separate broadcast and cable networks simultaneously on Friday and was seen by just under 60 million viewers. It featured actors like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts making pitches, and various musical performancess.

Pledges are still being accepted at the Web site

-- From wire reports

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