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Bush, Blair Condemn Istanbul Bombings - 2003-11-20

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have condemned the Istanbul bombings, and have vowed to stand together in the war on terror.

Their response to the bombings stressed unity and resolve.

Prime Minister Blair called the attacks on British interests in Istanbul "the latest terror outrage."

"Once again we must affirm that in the face of this terrorism there must be no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation in confronting this menace, in attacking it wherever and whenever we can, and in defeating it utterly," Mr. Blair said.

President Bush said the United States and Britain are joined in grief and determination. He said in Istanbul, the true nature of the terrorist enemy has become evident once again.

"We see their contempt, their utter contempt for innocent life," said President Bush. "They hate freedom. They hate free nations. Today, once again we saw their ambitions of murder."

Mr. Bush said the goal of the terrorists is to intimidate free nations. He said they are not going to succeed, saying that America and Britain are united in a common struggle.

"Our shared work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq is essential to the defeat of global terrorism," he said. "The spread of freedom and the hope it brings is the surest way in the long term to combat despair, anger and resentment that feed terror."

Mr. Bush noted that earlier in the day he met with the families of seven British soldiers killed in Iraq. He said they died in the cause of human freedom, describing the mission in Iraq as noble and necessary. And he stressed that while an accelerated timetable is in place for self-rule in Iraq, security needs will dictate when coalition troops pull out.

Prime Minister Blair agreed, saying they will stay until the job is done.

"And we must do that because that is an essential part of defeating this fanaticism and extremism that is killing innocent people all over our world today," said Mr. Blair.

During a joint news conference near the prime minister's office, they also reflected on the tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators gathered in London during the president's state visit. President Bush was then asked by a reporter why so many protesters hate him. Mr. Bush said he is not sure they do.

"I fully understand people do not agree with war," responded president Bush. "But I hope they agree with peace and freedom and liberty."

The linked issues of terrorism and Iraq clearly dominated the talks between the president and the prime minister. They reported no resolution on two other matters discussed. One is the status of American tariffs on imported steel. The other is the fate of British citizens captured by the United States in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as enemy combatants.