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Bush Offers Turkey Help in War on Terrorism - 2003-11-21

President Bush says Turkey is now a major front in the war on terrorism, and says he is willing to help Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president spoke while on a visit to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's home district in northeastern England.

President Bush says he called Prime Minister Erdogan from his plane, Air Force One, while traveling from London to Sedgefield, Tony Blair's home base.

"I told him our prayers are with his people," he said. "I told him we will work with him to defeat terror, and that terrorists have decided to use Turkey as a front."

Mr. Bush did not say what kind of assistance he had in mind. But, when asked if the United States wants Turkey to go after al-Qaida terrorists on its soil, he talked instead about the value of sharing intelligence.

"The best way to defeat al-Qaida-type killers is to share intelligence and then work with local authorities to hunt these killers down," said president Bush.

Thursday's twin bombings in Istanbul targeted British interests. Last Saturday, terrorists bombed two Istanbul synagogues.

The latest attacks took place as President Bush was getting ready to meet with Mr. Blair in London, and overshadowed their talks at 10 Downing Street.

The topic followed the two leaders as they visited Mr. Blair's home district. Standing before reporters at a local school, the prime minister said the attacks made them more resolved to win the war on terrorism.

"And these terrible attacks that happened, the terrorism that we see, the destruction, the intent to take innocent life that we see around us in the world today should make us all the more determined to do what we need to do to restore order and justice," said Mr. Blair.

The president added that terrorists are trying to intimidate the world. He said they will neither intimidate him nor Tony Blair.