Bush Meets Megawati at White House
President George W. Bush welcomed Indonesia's President Megawati Sukarnoputri to the White House Wednesday, for his first talks with a Muslim leader since deadly terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Bush stressed that what he has called a "crusade" against terrorism was not directed against Muslims, even though he has nominated Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, who is sheltered by Afghanistan's fundamentalist Islamic militia, as top suspect.
"You represent the nation with the most Muslim people in the world," Bush told Megawati in a joint Oval Office appearance.
"I have made it clear Madam President that the war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs," said Bush.
"It is a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people."
Megawati, leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, has condemned what she called the "brutal and indiscriminate" assaults on the United States last week and said her country would join the global battle against terrorism.
In her joint appearance with Bush, Megawati noted that she had condemned the "inhumane" attacks as soon as they occurred.
"This is the position of my government on this issue. So it is very clear."
But she was expected to caution Bush during their meeting against taking any hasty reprisals which could be interpreted as a revenge against Islam for attacks in which thousands of people are presumed dead.
The talks require Megawati to be politically nimble, as she faces pressure from Muslim groups back home.
As she prepared for her meeting, hard-line Indonesian Islamic groups threatened to raid US facilities and expel Americans nationwide if Washington attacked Afghanistan.
"If America drops even one bullet in Afghanistan, God willing, we will wipe out all US facilities and interests here," said Muhammad Kalono, the head of Laskar Jundullah, a radical Islamic group -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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