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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Blair rejects blame for terrorism
Tony Blair
Mr Blair: Terror struggle will last a generation or more
The war on terror will not be won unless people stop blaming UK foreign policy for causing it, Prime Minister Tony Blair told Labour delegates.

In his last conference speech to the party, he argued that to retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan now would "put our future security in the deepest peril".

"This terrorism isn't our fault. We didn't cause it," he said.

He pledged to dedicate his last few months in power seeking to help the Middle East peace process.

'Propaganda of the enemy'

Speaking to the party faithful for the last time as their leader, Mr Blair said he believed the struggle against terrorism "will last a generation or more".

"But I also believe this passionately: We will not win until we shake ourselves free of the wretched capitulation to the propaganda of the enemy that somehow we are the ones responsible," he said.

I will dedicate myself, with the same commitment I have given to Northern Ireland, to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine
Tony Blair

He stressed that terrorism was "not the consequence of foreign policy".

"It is an attack on our way of life. It is global. It has an ideology. It killed nearly 3,000 people including over 60 British on the streets of New York before the war in Afghanistan or Iraq was even thought of," he said.

The victims of this terrorism were from over 30 nations in the world and were mainly Muslim, he said, adding that it preyed on every conflict and exploited every grievance.

"This is not our war against Islam - this is a war fought by extremists who pervert the true faith of Islam," he said.

He said: "If we retreat now, hand over Iraq to al-Qaeda and sectarian death squads and Afghanistan back to al-Qaeda and the Taleban, we won't be safer.

"We will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril."

Price being paid

Mr Blair said "not a day goes by or an hour in the day" when he does not reflect on British troops in these war zones, who he described as "the bravest any nation could hope for".

"They are not fighting in vain, but for this nation's future," he said.

"But this is not a conventional war - it can't be won by force alone. It's not a clash of civilisations - it's about civilisation, about the ideas that shape it."

Turning to the Middle East, Mr Blair promised: "From now until I leave office I will dedicate myself, with the same commitment I have given to Northern Ireland, to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine.

"I may not succeed, but I will try because peace in the Middle East is a defeat for terrorism.

"We must never again let Lebanon become the background for a conflict that neither Israeli or Lebanese people wanted though it was they who paid the price for it."


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