Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
September 11, 2001
Ill make a statement first, and then if you want to ask questions, please
do. What we have all witnessed on our television screens from America are acts
of evil and horror beyond the imagination of any of us. But they are real, appalling
tragedies for the victims, for the families for the cities and towns, for the
communities of America, for the United States and, I have to say, for the peace
and stability of the world.
Our first thoughts go to the victims and their loved ones. I have already passed
my condolences to Colin Powell, the United States Secretary of State for Defense,
and we have already told the United States Government that we stand ready to
give whatever help we can to assist in tracking down the perpetrators behind
this evil and ensuring that they are brought to justice.
The Prime Minister has called a meeting of senior Ministers later today, as
soon as he gets back from Brighton. Officials are already meeting in the Cobra
Emergency Planning Briefing Room. Alert states for Government buildings, civilian
and military, have been raised in the United Kingdom. Alert states at diplomatic
posts abroad have been raised to their highest level, and we are issuing travel
advice to all British citizens abroad to take great care, if they are living
abroad in sensitive areas to stay in their compounds to avoid obvious areas
of potential risk, and to have great care for their safety.
Foreign Secretary, what practical help can you offer the Americans at this stage?
The first thing we all do as human beings is offer our prayers and our feelings
for this appalling and unbelievable evil that has befallen the United States.
But secondly of course we are a very close ally of the United States. We work
closely with them both militarily and in terms of intelligence and so on, and
we will do everything that we can to assist the United States in bringing these
people to justice. And we also have to do everything we can in the hope of averting
or avoiding further such appalling terrorist incidents.
Did you have any intimation at all that something like this could have been
afoot? Were there any intelligence reports?
We never disclose intelligence reports, but I think it is perfectly obvious
that the world was taken by surprise.
A Palestinian group has claimed and they may, or may not, have been involved,
but do you have any idea as to what group may have carried out such an attack?
Those claims are being assessed, but it is too early to say with any certainty
who was responsible and who was behind these attacks. And, as we know, they
are still going on.
Could you explain what further security measures you envisage being taken in
As you will be aware, because in comparison at a much more minor level we have
had our own terrorist problems over the decades, there are different alert states
for Government buildings and individuals, and the alert states are being raised
for Government buildings in the United Kingdom, as they are for posts abroad,
but as we have seen so graphically and appallingly on our television screens,
there are limits to the precautions you can take in the face of this kind of
attack on civilisation itself.
What about financial centres in this country?
All precautions are being taken, and we have to take them of course in the face
of such a threat. But this is an attack on civilisation.
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