Cheney: Al-Qaeda Must Not Re-Group in Mid-East Region
United States Vice President Dick Cheney, preparing for a regional visit to the Middle East, said on Friday that the al-Qaeda terror organization must not be allowed to regroup in the region after being battered in Afghanistan.
"Part of the effort ... is to make certain that we don't allow a sanctuary to develop someplace else that could become a refuge," Cheney said. He suggested he would bring that message with him to the leaders he plans to visit, according to AP.
Cheney begins an 11-day trip on Sunday that is due to take him to Britain, Turkey, Israel and nine Arab nations.
Cheney said he would discuss military and economic relations with the leaders he visits, and spend some time with U.S. troops stationed in the region, many of whom are actively involved in ongoing military operations in Afghanistan.
"There remains a lot of work to be done" in Afghanistan, he said. Of the current U.S.-led military offensive in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where immense fighting has broken out, Cheney said "there may well be others in the months ahead."
In his briefing, Cheney did not mention Iraq by name. However, a senior administration official said Iraq will be an important part of the discussions.
At the same time, the official said it would be wrong to expect that Cheney, on his trip, would announce that military action was imminent.
Cheney's message would be that "if you have any doubt about the depth of our commitment, look to Afghanistan," the official said.
A second senior administration official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Cheney's comments on Middle Eastern nations becoming a sanctuary for terrorists were general, not specific in terms of which countries.
Nonetheless, the official said Yemen was of particular concern as a possible breeding ground for terrorists. And, the official added, the al-Qaeda operation itself had roots in Egypt. (Albawaba.com)
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