Sunday, September 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bush says US economy still strong

Washington, September 22
After a brutal week of selling on Wall Street, company layoffs and airline cutbacks, President George W. Bush today sought to reassure Americans that the US economy was “fundamentally strong.’’

“The terrorists who attacked the USA on September 11 targeted our economy as well as our people,’’ Mr Bush said in his weekly radio address. “They brought down a symbol of US prosperity but they could not touch its source.’’

The aftershocks of the suicide plane assaults on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon that left more than 6,800 persons dead or missing pummeled the US economy this week, leading a growing number of analysts to conclude that the USA has entered a recession.

Fears that war was inevitable following Afghanistan’s rejection of a US ultimatum to surrender Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in last week’s attacks, on Friday drove blue chip stocks to their worst weekly loss since the Great Depression.

The Dow Jones industrial index of 30 blue chip companies — the crown jewels of the US economy — lost 140 points, bringing its loss for the week to 14.2 per cent, second only to a 15.5 per cent drop in the summer of 1933.

Mr Bush did not sugarcoat the economic disruption, choosing instead to rally Americans by declaring that “no terrorist will ever be able to decide our fate.’’

“Our economy has had a shock,’’ he said, noting that many workers lost their jobs this week, especially in the airline and hospitality industries, in restaurants and in tourism, as companies struggled to remain afloat. Americans’ heightened fear of travelling hit demand in the industries.

“Many Americans have also seen the value of their stocks decline,’’ Mr Bush said. “Yet, for all these challenges, the US economy is fundamentally strong,’’ he said.

As he worked to build an international coalition to join the USA in a “war on terrorism,’’ Mr Bush also worked with the Congress to deliver $15 billion in emergency aid to keep US airlines flying.

Legislation has been drafted to help restore the finances of major airlines reeling from the effects on their business of the hijackings that include costly new security measures and plummeting travel demand.

“This will help the airlines maintain short-term stability as they work toward long-term viability for the benefit of all workers and companies that depend on air travel,’’ Mr Bush said. Reuters


Refuelling: India to ‘consider’ US request

New Delhi, September 22
India will “consider” extending refuelling and other logistical facilities to the USA if requested by Washington in the wake of possible air strikes on Afghanistan, Home Minister L.K. Advani said today.

“Although India was not directly involved in the Gulf war in 1991, it had agreed to provide refuelling facilities for American warplanes,” Mr Advani told Prabhu Chawla, Editor of India Today, on `Aaj Tak’.

“We have already acceded to the US request to give intelligence inputs on terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, besides extending moral and diplomatic support to it in its global war against terrorism,” he said.

“We will consider the request for refuelling and other facilities while keeping in mind India’s sovereignty,” he said, adding that India was backing the USA as it was “directly affected by terrorism”.

On the possibility of resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue, the Home Minister said there was no scope for it till Islamabad continued to aid and abet terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other places within the country.

Recalling Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s description of terrorists in J and K as “freedom fighters” during the Agra summit, he said “I feel pity for him. At this juncture, he may be leading the anti-jehadi forces in Pakistan.”

On Washington’s current closeness to Islamabad and whether Indo-US ties would suffer a setback, the Home Minister said the USA had approached Pakistan “purely on geographical considerations and its close links with the Taliban”.

When pressed that Washington had failed to mention terrorism in J and K, he said, “We are not dependent on the US in our battle against terrorism. Although we will seek the support of Washington and other powers in this regard.” PTIBack

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