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United Kingdom
Prime Minister Tony Blair
With French President Jacques Chirac
Paris, France
September 20, 2001

PRESIDENT CHIRAC:
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 and liberties.

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 don’t 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 wouldn’t 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 don’t 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.

END


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