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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 02:37 GMT 03:37 UK
Blair pledges solidarity with US
Tony Blair (left) and George Bush
Shoulder to shoulder: Tony Blair offers his support
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has reaffirmed his pledge of solidarity and support for the United States after talks with President George W Bush.

Mr Blair said the struggle against the type of terrorism responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington concerned "the whole of the democratic and civilised and free world".


I give on behalf of our country, our solidarity, sympathy and our support

Tony Blair
The prime minister spoke to reporters ahead of President Bush's historic address to both houses of Congress in which he vowed to bring justice to those responsible for the attacks.

Mr Blair said Britain would support a fight against international terrorism for "as long as it takes".

"What happened on 11 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," he said.

"They have no regard for the sanctity of human life. They don't share the values of democracy or freedom or justice."

Police and fire tribute

Mr Blair flew to the US on Thursday for his first meeting with President Bush since the attacks.

He has played a leading role in building an international consensus supporting President Bush's coalition against "global terrorism".


Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists

President George W Bush
The prime minister's first stop was New York, where he saw for himself the devastation caused by the suicide attacks, before attending a memorial service for up to 300 British victims.

He later arrived in Washington for a dinner with President Bush before the president's address to Congress.

During Mr Blair's New York visit he paid tribute to those who lost their lives in coping with the attack on the World Trade Center.

At a memorial service at St Thomas' Episcopal Church in Manhattan, Mr Blair said that amid the shock and anger, the bonds between Britain and the US had become even stronger.

He said he had come to offer his support to all who had lost loved ones in the attacks.

Nearly 100 British citizens have been confirmed dead in the 11 September attacks although final death toll is expected to be closer to 300.

Cheney absent

Mr Bush offered his own thanks and praise for Britain and his "friend" Mr Blair during his speech to Congress.

"America has no truer friend than Great Britain," he said. "Once again we are joined here in a great cause."

Mr Bush carefully outlined who he believed carried out the attacks, and in particular singled out Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation.

Blair and Schroeder
Blair and Schroeder: Unswerving support for US
He attacked the Taleban regime in Afghanistan and urged them to "deliver to United States all leaders of the al-Qaeda organisation".

"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make... either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," he said.

"From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

Vice-President Dick Cheney did not attend, but remained in a secure location to look after "the continuation of important government issues" in the event of further terrorist attacks, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Partners

As Mr Blair was arriving in New York, the US and the European Union signed an agreement to work in partnership to fight terrorism.

The two sides committed themselves to co-operation in a range of issues, including law enforcement, air security and immigration controls.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Blair and French President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed their commitment to join the US in military retaliation if - as Mr Chirac put it - the measures were "appropriate and effective."

The two men met shortly before European justice and home affairs ministers agreed to sweeping legal reforms to help in the fight against terrorism.

These include a European warrant for search and arrest that would obviate the need for extradition proceedings, and an EU-wide definition of terrorism.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Robinson
"The moment for military action could come soon"
Prime Minister Tony Blair
pledges Britain's full support to the cause
See also:

20 Sep 01 | Americas
We share grief, Blair tells America
20 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair targets world terrorism
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Chirac: Fighting terror a priority
19 Sep 01 | Europe
Germany backs military action
18 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair embarks on diplomatic offensive
17 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghanistan - a tough military option
18 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
China demands US attack evidence
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