Prime Minister Tony Blair
With French President Jacques Chirac
September 20, 2001
I think there is no need for me to say, ladies and gentlemen, how pleased I
was to have this opportunity to welcome here the British Prime Minister and
to say that I was very much interested in having this opportunity to share with
him my thoughts about my recent trip to Washington. As you know, Prime Minister
Blair is about to leave for Washington, and I think that this just gave us another
opportunity to say that we have a common understanding of the events that just
occurred in the United States and that we share the view that we need to strengthen
our efforts to fight against terrorism, this major threat to all our freedoms
PRIME MINISTER: I would like first of all to express my profound gratitude to President Chirac
for having this opportunity of speaking to him this morning, appearing of
course with his discussions with President Bush and in particular to know
once again that we share exactly the same sentiments on this question, we
express our solidarity with the United States of America and with the people
there, we recognise the need to take action against those responsible and
we affirm our willingness, indeed our determination, to take the measures
necessary at an international and indeed national level, to ensure that the
fight against this menace of terrorism is successful and one of the most important
and most significant aspects of what has happened in the days following those
terrible attacks in the United States has been the strength, indeed I would
say the growing strength, of the coalition right round the world, against
terrorism, against the threat that it poses to all of us, and our determination
to defeat it, because that is the right and the just thing to do.
Once again, Jacques, thank you so much for seeing me today and I hope very
much within the next few days that we demonstrate, as a world, our complete
solidarity in this fight that is so important to us.
QUESTION: The Americans have started to deploy planes for retaliation. I was wondering
whether on the French or British side, measures have started to be taken for
intelligence, for instance.
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: As things stand today, I dont believe that the American authorities
have made a decision as to the correct form of modalities of this unavoidable
retaliation, a retaliation that must be adapted and effective, and if the
decisions are made, and after talks in consultation with us, I cannot see
how France and Britain wouldnt be involved if, as I said, it is appropriate
and suited to the situation.
PRIME MINISTER: I agree entirely with that. Obviously the question of the precise response
is a matter under discussion at the present time. We consider all aspects
of that issue very carefully indeed, but as we have all been saying over these
past few days, we need a response, an effective response, against those that
are responsible for this terrible act of terrorism, and then secondly we need
to take, at an international level, and national level indeed, the measures
necessary against this menace, this threat of terrorism which concerns us
all, so in respect of those two aspects again, we work very closely with the
United States, and obviously as allies together.
QUESTION: Could I ask, given the last few hours of preparation, do you now believe
that it is inevitable that the response will include a military response or,
even at this late stage, is there time for the Taliban to avert that.
PRIME MINISTER: As I said to you a moment or two ago, obviously the precise nature of our
response is a matter under discussion at the present time, and I dont
think it wise or sensible to enter into details of it. However, those that
can assist in bringing to justice the people responsible for these terrible
acts of terrorism should do so. That is very, very clear. And that we must
take action against the people responsible is also plain and certain. So all
the way through we proceed calmly, we proceed in a considered way, but with
a total determination that the people responsible for this act of terrorism
are brought to justice.
Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.