U.S. president firm bin Laden to catch

U.S. President George W. Bush, on an unannounced visit to Afghanistan , said Wednesday he remains confident terrorist leader Osama bin Laden "will be brought to justice" despite a so-far futile four-year hunt. Asked about the search for bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 , terror attacks, and the president's call shortly afterward for getting him "dead or alive," Bush said the search for bin Laden and his associates continues.

"It's not a matter of if they're brought to justice, it's when they're brought to justice," Bush said at a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the capital, Kabul . The U.S. military leads a 21,000 strong international coalition hunting al-Qaida and militant supporters of the former Taliban regime ousted in late 2001 for hosting bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

"We're making progress in dismantling al-Qaida. Slowly but surely, we're bringing the people to justice and the world is better for it," Bush said. His visit comes as violence in Afghanistan is surging. More than 200 U.S. personnel have died in the Afghan conflict in the past four years. Militants stepped up attacks last year, making it the most violent since the fall of the Taliban.

Amid extremely tight security, Bush made the surprise visit in Afghanistan at the onset of a scheduled visit to India and Pakistan . "It's a thrill to come to a country which is dedicating itself to the dignity of every person who lives here," Bush said.

He said America was please to be involved in Afghanistan 's future and was happy with its recent progress. "People all over the world are watching the experience here in Afghanistan ," Bush said.

Bush, making his first visit to Afghanistan , held talks with Karzai presided over a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the U.S. Embassy. He was to give a pep talk to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base before flying out for India , his next stop.

Of hopes to be able to announce a nuclear agreement with India , Bush said: "This is a difficult issue. This is a difficult issue for the Indian government. This is a difficult issue for the American government." Officials of both governments were continuing talks, he said.

Bush has promised to sell India nuclear technology and materials to help it with its civilian nuclear energy program, but the deal is hung up on reaching accord on how to ensure that the assistance isn't diverted into weapons programs.

After India , Bush will travel to Pakistan . The suspected presence of Taliban militants in Pakistan has become a source of tension in relations with Afghanistan . More than two dozen suicide attacks in recent months have fueled Afghan suspicions that militants are operating out of Pakistan . Bush said that, when he is in Pakistan , he will raise the issue of cross border infiltrations with Pakistan 's president, reports the AP.


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