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Bush, Blair Pledge Solidarity in Wake of Terror Bombings in Turkey

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2003 – The leaders of the United States and Great Britain today pledged to stand fast in Iraq and continue their unified fight against world terrorism as yet another apparent terrorist bombing rocked Istanbul, Turkey.

Meeting with reporters in London, President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair both offered condolences to the estimated 25 killed and near-400 injured in separate Istanbul bombings that targeted a London-based bank and the British consulate.

The latest attacks, which occurred just hours before the Bush-Blair press conference, followed a Nov. 15 bombing of a synagogue in Istanbul that reportedly killed 20 people and wounded 300. Both days' bombings have been attributed to al Qaeda.

The latest bombings illustrated the terrorists' "ambitions of murder," Bush said. The terrorists "want to intimidate and demoralize free nations. They're not going to succeed."

The United States, Britain "and other free nations are united in our determination to fight and defeat this evil, wherever it is found," the president said.

Blair, too, had harsh words for "the latest terrorist outrage" in Turkey, noting the bombings "should not lessen" the U.S.-British commitment in Iraq.

Establishing democracy in Iraq after the removal of the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein is a task that's "noble and it is necessary," Bush asserted, vowing to eradicate Iraq of "thugs" and "killers."

U.S.-coalition forces in Iraq have lately stepped up operations against suspected insurgent hideouts in the wake of increased attacks on anti-terror troops in the past few weeks.

However, press reports say insurgents in Iraq lately seem to be eschewing military targets and are focusing on people who cooperate with coalition forces, such as political officials and interpreters.

For example, today's bombing in Kirkuk, Iraq, killed five Iraqis and wounded 40, according to reports, and occurred at about the same time as the Istanbul attack. That attack, according to press reports, damaged the building of a Kurdish political party that favored the coalition.

Bush promised "to finish the job we have begun" in Iraq, noting that he'd recently met with families of British service members who'd been killed there. Britain has deployed about 17,000 troops to Iraq, second only to the United States' 130,000.

British troops who were killed in Iraq have sacrificed "in the cause of human freedom," Bush said, noting that Great Britain has been a steadfast U.S. ally during the global anti-terror war.

"And we are grateful," the American president asserted.

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