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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 20, 2001
UK's Blair Pledges Solidarity
Remarks by the President and Prime Minister of United Kingdom Tony Blair
The Grand Foyer
8:12 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome my friend, and friend to America, Prime Minister Tony Blair to the White House. I appreciate him coming to America in our time of need. One of the first phone calls I got after that terrible day was from the Prime Minister. He was reassuring to me. He was -- he showed to be a true friend, and I appreciate that.
I'm so honored you're here. And I look forward to giving a speech tonight. The Prime Minister has kindly agreed to come and listen to it. So I'm not going to answer any questions tonight. I'm going to let my speech be exactly what I want to say.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has agreed to say a few comments, and then take a couple of questions from you.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you Mr. President. It's my honor to be here, and also to pay tribute to your leadership at this immensely difficult time. I was in New York earlier today, and it's perhaps only when you are actually there that the full enormity and horror of what happened comes home to you.
And I said then, I would like to repeat, that my father's generation went through the experience of the second world war, when Britain was under attack, during the days of the Blitz. And there was one nation and one people that, above all, stood side by side with us at that time. And that nation was America, and those people were the American people. And I say to you, we stand side by side with you now, without hesitation.
This is a struggle that concerns us all, the whole of the democratic and civilized and free world. And we have to do two things very clearly; we have to bring to account those responsible, and then we have to set about at every single level, in every way that we can, dismantling the apparatus of terror, and eradicating the evil of mass terrorism in our world.
And I know that America, Britain and all our allies will stand united together in that task. And I give you, on behalf of our country, our solidarity, our sympathy and our support.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
Q Mr. Prime Minister, have you discussed what Britain's involvement in any military action might be?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, of course, we've discussed the full range of issues. Now is not the moment to go into the details of whatever response we make. But I think that you can be in no doubt at all of our determination to act, to make sure, as I say, that those responsible for this event are brought to account. And in the talks I had in Europe before I left, I believe that sense of solidarity is echoed right round the world.
Q Prime Minister, how are you prepared to go on supporting a full-scale war --
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I believe we have to go on fighting terrorism as long as it takes. Because what happened on the 11th of September was, of course, a brutal and horrific attack on America, but it was a demonstration of what these people are capable of in any part of the world. And the important thing to realize is that there is no limit on what they would do that is moral. They have no regard for the sanctity of human life. They don't share the values of democracy or freedom or justice. The only limits on what they do are practical or technical.
And that is why it is our duty -- I believe this -- it is our duty to take action to make sure that at every level we can -- how these groups are financed, how they operate, how they move about, the weapons that they acquire -- at every single level, we have to take the action necessary to put an end to it.
Q Prime Minister, the President said tonight that countries have to choose between being with you or being with the terrorists. How many countries do you believe are making the choice to be with terrorists? And what are the consequences to countries still not sure which side they're on?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I just wanted to say this to you in conclusion to that question. I believe right round the world there is support for firm action now. And I believe the coalition of support for that action is growing. It is strengthening; it is not diminishing. And that is the impression that I have had from many of the conversations I've had with world leaders in all different parts of the world. Because this struggle is something that should unite people of all faiths, of all nations, of all democratic political persuasions, and I believe it will.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We've got to go.
END 8:18 P.M. EDT