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Bush and Blair: Friendly Farewell

November 21, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT


TERENCE SMITH: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip bade farewell to President Bush and the First Lady under a London drizzle this morning. The next and last stop on the president’s three-and-a-half day state visit was Prime Minister Tony Blair’s rural home district of Sedgefield in northeast England.

Once again, President Bush was dogged by anti-war demonstrators, hundreds here, versus tens of thousands in London earlier in the week. Today, more than 1,000 police provided security. The two leaders and their wives lunched at a Sedgefield town pub and visited with about 70 locals.

A school visit came next, where they watched soccer practice. Before heading inside, President Bush told reporters he had called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to offer his condolences on yesterday’s terror attacks.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I told him our prayers are with his people. I told him that we will work with him to defeat terror, and that the terrorists have decided to use Turkey as a front.

REPORTER: Is Turkey a new front in this war on terror?


REPORTER: A hot spot?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Iraq is a front, Turkey is a front, anywhere where the terrorists think they can strike is a front.

TERENCE SMITH: Inside, the two leaders met with students and then again with reporters. Prime Minister Blair said the bombings in Turkey made it even more important to stay the course in the war on terror.

TONY BLAIR: I think the important thing is that when these terrible terrorist attacks occur, there’s one of two responses: People can respond either by being intimidated by it, by feeling, “well, let’s reduce our profile in this struggle”– that’s one response; or people can respond by saying, “when we’re under attack, we defend ourselves, and we go out and fight with renewed strength and determination for what we believe in.”

TERENCE SMITH: The prime minister and President Bush reflected on this week’s visit and the special relationship between their two nations.

TONY BLAIR: People sometimes talk about this alliance between Britain and the United States of America as if it were some scorecard. It isn’t. It’s an alliance of values; it’s an alliance of common interests; it’s an alliance of common convictions and beliefs. And the reason why we are standing side by side with America is not because we feel forced to, it is because we want to, because we believe that is the right place to be.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This leader and this country are willing to take on hard tasks in the name of freedom and peace. And so is America. And by working together, we will be able to accomplish a lot in these hard things. You know, as I said in my comments, that we are fortunate to have friends… I’m fortunate to have a friend like Tony Blair, America is fortunate to have friends like the people of Great Britain, because the people of Great Britain have got grit and strength and determination and are willing to take on a challenge. And we’re being challenged. We’re challenged by killers, cold-blooded killers. And we’re going to prevail. And we’re more likely to prevail working together. And that’s the importance of the relationship.

TERENCE SMITH: Heading home to Washington, the president said he and Mrs. Bush had a “fantastic” trip and promised to continue his close contact with Prime Minister Blair.