with United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair
White House Grand Foyer
September 20, 2001
8:12 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome my friend, and friend to America, Prime
Minister Tony Blair to the White House. I appreciate him coming to America in
our time of need. One of the first phone calls I got after that terrible day
was from the Prime Minister. He was reassuring to me. He was -- he showed to
be a true friend, and I appreciate that.
I'm so honored you're here. And I look forward to giving a speech tonight. The
Prime Minister has kindly agreed to come and listen to it. So I'm not going
to answer any questions tonight. I'm going to let my speech be exactly what
I want to say.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has agreed to say a few comments, and then
take a couple of questions from you.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you Mr. President. It's my honor to be here, and
also to pay tribute to your leadership at this immensely difficult time. I was
in New York earlier today, and it's perhaps only when you are actually there
that the full enormity and horror of what happened comes home to you.
And I said then, I would like to repeat, that my father's generation went through
the experience of the second world war, when Britain was under attack, during
the days of the Blitz. And there was one nation and one people that, above all,
stood side by side with us at that time. And that nation was America, and those
people were the American people. And I say to you, we stand side by side with
you now, without hesitation.
This is a struggle that concerns us all, the whole of the democratic and civilized
and free world. And we have to do two things very clearly; we have to bring
to account those responsible, and then we have to set about at every single
level, in every way that we can, dismantling the apparatus of terror, and eradicating
the evil of mass terrorism in our world.
And I know that America, Britain and all our allies will stand united together
in that task. And I give you, on behalf of our country, our solidarity, our
sympathy and our support.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, have you discussed what Britain's involvement
in any military action might be?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, of course, we've discussed the full range of issues.
Now is not the moment to go into the details of whatever response we make. But
I think that you can be in no doubt at all of our determination to act, to make
sure, as I say, that those responsible for this event are brought to account.
And in the talks I had in Europe before I left, I believe that sense of solidarity
is echoed right round the world.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, how are you prepared to go on supporting a full-scale
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I believe we have to go on fighting terrorism as long
as it takes. Because what happened on the 11th of 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. And the important thing
to realize is that there is no limit on what they would do that is moral. They
have no regard for the sanctity of human life. They don't share the values of
democracy or freedom or justice. The only limits on what they do are practical
And that is why it is our duty -- I believe this -- it is our duty to take action
to make sure that at every level we can -- how these groups are financed, how
they operate, how they move about, the weapons that they acquire -- at every
single level, we have to take the action necessary to put an end to it.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, the President said tonight that countries have to
choose between being with you or being with the terrorists. How many countries
do you believe are making the choice to be with terrorists? And what are the
consequences to countries still not sure which side they're on?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I just wanted to say this to you in conclusion to
that question. I believe right round the world there is support for firm action
now. And I believe the coalition of support for that action is growing. It is
strengthening; it is not diminishing. And that is the impression that I have
had from many of the conversations I've had with world leaders in all different
parts of the world. Because this struggle is something that should unite people
of all faiths, of all nations, of all democratic political persuasions, and
I believe it will.