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United Kingdom
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Press Conference
September 11, 2001

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
I’ll 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.

QUESTION:
Foreign Secretary, what practical help can you offer the Americans at this stage?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
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.

QUESTION:
Did you have any intimation at all that something like this could have been afoot? Were there any intelligence reports?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
We never disclose intelligence reports, but I think it is perfectly obvious that the world was taken by surprise.

QUESTION:
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?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
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.

QUESTION:
Could you explain what further security measures you envisage being taken in this country?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
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.

QUESTION:
What about financial centres in this country?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
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.

END


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Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.