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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Emergency cabinet meets in Number 10
Tony Blair speaking in Downing Street on Wednesday
Tony Blair called the special cabinet meeting
Prime Minister Tony Blair has held an emergency cabinet meeting in Downing Street as the British death toll from the US terror attacks approached 100.

Mr Blair warned the cabinet, which met for about 40 minutes on Thursday morning, that the atrocities in New York would "touch every community here".


We now have the whole of the international community determined to take action

Jack Straw
Foreign Secretary
He asked ministers to imagine how people would feel if the same number of British citizens killed in New York had died in a tragedy inside Britain.

Earlier, a separate summit of senior ministers, defence chiefs and intelligence directors was held in Number 10.

That meeting of the government's Civil Contingencies Committee was considering whether the extra security measures in place to protect the UK should remain.

Death toll rises

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced before the meetings began that the confirmed number of UK victims in New York was approaching 100 and was likely to rise to the "middle hundreds".

UK Security steps
Airports on alert
All private planes grounded
No flights over central London
Police across UK on alert
Defence facilities across world on alert
Business and finance institutions advised on extra measures
Co-operating with US, EU and other allies on security issues
Mr Straw said British forces were in a state of readiness, but he did not want to discuss what moves might be launched against the terrorists or any state offering them safety.

In an unprecedented move, Nato has declared that Tuesday's attack on the United States can be considered an attack on the entire 19-nation alliance.

But the foreign secretary told Radio 4's Today programme that that historic decision did not amount to a "blank cheque" and there would be "collective consultation".

Mr Straw highlighted the importance of a unanimous decision by the United Nations Security Council, which said the perpetrators of the attack and anyone who was harbouring them would be held to account.

Worldwide determination

"We now have the whole of the international community determined to take action both to deal with this threat and also if it is humanly possible to deter and to reduce the risks of such threats happening again."

Mr Straw refused to speculate whether Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks.

Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary
Straw: International community has united against terrorism
He said there should be "a determined response, a response that is based on judgments, and of course which is based on evidence".

MPs will return to Westminster on Friday morning to hear a statement from Mr Blair and to debate the implications of the atrocities.

Labour backbencher Tam Dalyell, who is the Father of the House of Commons, stressed the need to avoid a "rush to judgement".

"There's a great difference between bringing people to justice... and massive retaliation.

"Massive retaliation is probably what people like bin Laden want - innocent people killed.

"If that happens the genuine sympathy for the Americans from many Arab countries will simply evaporate."

Democractic voices

Tony Blair announced his decision to recall Parliament early from its summer break on Wednesday.

He said: "I believe Parliament should be recalled both because of the sheer magnitude of the event, and its implications, but also because this was an attack not just on a number of buildings, but on the very notion of democracy.

"It is therefore all the more important that democratic voices are heard and, in our country, Parliament is the place for that to happen."

The debate will be a key first challenge for the new Conservative leader, due to be named on Thursday afternoon, in his debut Commons appearance as leader of the opposition.

There will also be a separate debate, led by Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons, in the House of Lords.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Graham Satchell
"The effects of this terrorist attack are being felt thousands of miles away"
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
"The number of confirmed British deaths is now approaching one hundred"
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"The world now knows the full evil and capability of international terrorism"
See also:

13 Sep 01 | UK
UK pays its respects
12 Sep 01 | Americas
Nato backs US
12 Sep 01 | Business
UK firms assess human costs
12 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Spotlight on 'Special Relationship'
12 Sep 01 | Scotland
Missing son phoned from skyscraper
12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Survivors' family die in tragic twist
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