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Bush, Blair Remain Steadfast In Fight Against Terror in Iraq

By Warren Hoge

The New York Times -- LONDON

A grim President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged defiantly on Thursday to continue the fight to combat terror and stabilize Iraq, only hours after Bush’s historic state visit to Britain was jarred by two coordinated truck bomb attacks on British targets in Turkey.

The blasts in Istanbul hit the British consulate and the offices of the London-based bank HSBC, killing at least 27 people and injuring 450. They cast a deep pall on a day that London itself was placed on high security alert, as Bush’s heavily armored limousine moved eerily through largely deserted streets.

The attacks in Turkey -- following the bombings Saturday of two synagogues in Istanbul that left 23 dead -- seemed to impart to the two leaders an even greater determination to wage war against international terrorists. “Once again, we must affirm that in the face of this terrorism, there must be no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation in confronting this menace, in attacking it wherever and whenever we can, and in defeating it utterly,” an angered Blair said in the opening moments of a joint news conference with Bush.

“Today, the fanatics of terror showed themselves to be callous, brutal murderers of the innocent,” he said, adding a promise to “meet their will to inflict terror with a greater will to defeat it. To confront their philosophy of hate with our own tolerance and freedom.”

Bush speaking with equal determination, if not the same eloquence, said that the terrorists “want to intimidate and demoralize free nations. They are not going to succeed.”

Both men sought to tie the bombings to the battle in Iraq. “What this latest terrorist outrage has shown us is this is a war,” Blair said. He added, “Its main battleground is Iraq.”

Bush also centered his response on Iraq, saying: “Our mission in Iraq is noble and it is necessary. No act of thugs or killers will change our resolve or alter their fate. We will finish the job we have begun.”