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 Home > News & Policies > November 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 21, 2003

President Bush Wraps Up State Visit to United Kingdom
Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair at Sedgefield Community College
Sedgefield Community College
Sedgefield, England

     Fact sheet In Focus: Trip to U.K.

2:56 P.M. (Local)

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PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I'd just like to say, first of all, how delighted we both are to be at Sedgefield School here, and how wonderful the welcome has been from all the teachers and pupils, and what a magnificent job of work they do here. I also want to express my real pride that the President of the United States of America is here in my constituency and in the Northeast of England. And everyone is really thrilled to see him here and delighted at the honor his presence here does us.

The last two or three days have been an interesting time, I think, to reflect. It's been a time when, with some fairly tragic things going on in the world, it's been an opportunity for us to reflect and know that amongst the tragedy, the alliance between Great Britain -- between the United States of America is an alliance that is strong and enduring, of immense importance to our two countries. And we've got to continue that alliance now.

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush participate in a visit with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mrs. Blair at Sedgefield Community College.  White House photo by Eric Draper And these terrible attacks that happen, the terrorism that we see, the destruction, the intent to take innocent life that we see around us in our world today should make us just all the more determined to do what we need to do to restore order and justice, to bring peace and freedom and democracy to people all over the world.

It's been a fantastic opportunity these last few days just to -- as I say, to think about this relationship between Britain and the United States, to reflect on its history, to assess the strength of it today, and to use that strength for a better future for our two countries, but also for the wider world.

Mr. President, George, you and the First Lady, Laura, have been really welcome here in the Northeast. And as I say, it's been a fantastic day for people here, and we can't tell you how delighted we are to see you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, it's been a great trip. Thanks for the invitation; thanks for the hospitality. You and Her Majesty The Queen have made this a special part of our life. And it's really good to be in your own constituency. It's clear they love you up here, which is always a good sign. (Laughter.)

We -- being with the school -- the school kids here reminds us of our solemn responsibility to protect our people and to create the conditions necessary for peace to prevail when they become older. That's our biggest job. And yesterday's attack in Turkey reminded us that we hadn't completed our job yet.

You know, as the Prime Minister so eloquently said yesterday, the terrorists are trying to intimidate the free world. And this man will not be intimidated, and neither will I. But, more importantly, the people of Great Britain won't be intimidated, and neither will the people of America. And working together, we will make the world safer and freer for boys and girls all across the world, starting with these right here.

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair wave to onlookers during the President’s visit to the Blair’s home.  White House photo by Eric Draper And so, Mr. Prime Minister, it's been a fantastic trip, and we're so thrilled to have been here. Thank you for your wonderful hospitality. And we look forward to -- I look forward to our weekly phone calls to stay on the offensive against the enemy. Thank you.

I've already answered your questions, but if you've got another one --

Q Sure, if I may. In light of the tragedy of these terrorist attacks, have your -- the leaders from either Germany or France, do you find there are any indications that they're more empathetic or sympathetic to your cause? Do you feel as if there might be more aid or troops or even a stronger political alliance with those who have not agreed with you?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I think the important thing is that when these terrible terrorist attacks occur, there's one of two responses. People can respond either by being intimidated by it, by feeling, let's reduce our profile in this struggle. That's one response. Or people can respond by saying, when we're under attack, we defend ourselves, and we go out and fight with renewed strength and determination for what we believe in.

Because when you look at what we're trying to do, and trying to make sure that the world -- it's not just about security, it's actually about recognizing that a world that is more free and stable and prosperous is a world that is more secure. When you recognize that that's what we're trying to do, and these people are trying by these appalling acts of terrorism against wholly innocent people, trying to prevent that world happening, then I think the response from everyone is very clear.

And I believe and hope that that is true, not just in Britain, but all over Europe. Because, after all, what did we learn in Europe in our history, in the history that we share with the United States of America? And that is, when freedom is threatened in Europe, we have to fight. And the reason why you have a European Union today, and we have democracy and stability and freedom in Europe, is because in the face of attacks upon that freedom, we, with our allies, the United States, defended that freedom.

And so I'm sure that people in other countries in Europe will feel the same way about that. And I think you saw from the reaction, for example, in Italy, when that terrible act of terrorism killed Italian citizens who were over in Iraq trying to make that country better, I think you could see by that reaction from people in Italy that I think there is an instinctive knowledge that when you're attacked by people, by these wicked acts, there is only one response that is possible to make, and that is to get out there and be absolutely up front and say, we are not tolerating this, we're going to fight back.

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush arrive at Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mrs. Blair’s home, Myrobella House, Trimdon Station.  White House photo by Eric Draper Q Chancellor Schroeder has said that it's nice that we're going to speed up the timetable for handing over power to the Iraqi people, but he's still not going to contribute troops or any more money. Is that a disappointment?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Chancellor Schroeder is committing troops to Afghanistan. And it is very helpful for our coalition. Afghanistan is -- obviously been a -- is a recently liberated country from a barbaric regime. And Chancellor Schroeder understands that it is essential that Afghanistan be free and democratic and peaceful. And I thank him for his significant and strong contribution.

Q Mr. Prime Minister, you've talked a lot about the alliance between the two countries. A lot of your critics this week have said that Britain is not getting enough out of this alliance. What do you say to that? And do you feel that you've accomplished a lot this week for Britain?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: What I say to that is that people sometimes talk about this alliance between Britain and the United States of America as if it were some school card. It isn't. It's an alliance of values; it's an alliance of common interests; it's an alliance of common convictions and beliefs. And the reason why we are standing side-by-side with America is not because we feel forced to, it is because we want to, because we believe that is the right place to be.

And as I was saying to you -- I was discussing this with -- last night, and was just reflecting, when September the 11th happened, remember -- obviously many, many American citizens lost their lives -- this was the worst terrorist attack against British citizens. We're in this together. And we didn't -- Britain didn't go off and attack al Qaeda. We didn't start a war against these people. They came to us. And if you look right around the world at the moment, there are something like nationals from 60 different nations in the world who have lost citizens in these terrorist attacks. And it doesn't matter whether you're up front or at the back, whether you're people who have got big profile on this or a low profile. These people aren't interested in that. This is a fundamental struggle.

And so the reason we have this alliance with the United States, the reason I'm proud to have the President here, the reason why I believe the vast majority of my country is proud of the alliance with the United States, is not because there's some payback that's going to be given to us. It's not about that. It's about knowing that this is a struggle in which we're both engaged; just as in my father's generation, they knew there was a struggle in which we both had to be engaged. And thank goodness both of us were, because that's the reason we're standing in a free country today.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Listen, thank you. One comment on that. This leader and this country are willing to take on hard tasks in the name of freedom and peace. And so is America. And by working together, we will be able to accomplish a lot in these hard things.

As I said in my comments, that we are fortunate to have friends, I'm fortunate to have a friend like Tony Blair. America is fortunate to have friends like the people of Great Britain, because the people of Great Britain have got grit and strength and determination, and are willing to take on a challenge. And we're being challenged. We're challenged by killers, cold-blooded killers. And we're going to prevail. And we're more likely to prevail working together. And that's the importance of the relationship.

Listen, thank you all. It's been a wonderful time being here in this great country.

END 3:06 P.M. (Local)