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Bush visiting New York on Friday

Bush speaks with Giuliani and Pataki from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Thursday.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will go to New York on Friday afternoon to offer his condolences to the families of those injured or killed in Tuesday's terrorist attack and to thank rescue workers.

Bush, in a televised conference call with New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki, said he would travel to New York City immediately after a late-morning memorial service at Washington's National Cathedral.

The president has designated Friday, September 14, a day of "National Prayer and Remembrance" and will call on Americans to use their lunch breaks to go to places of worship to pray for victims and their families.

"You have extended to me a kind invitation to come to New York City," Bush told Giuliani as he stood next to his Oval Office desk. "I accept. I will be there tomorrow afternoon after the prayer service at the National Cathedral."

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Bush continued: "I can't tell you how sad I am and America is for the people of New York City and the Tri-State Area.

"I want to let you know there is a quiet anger in America that is real. Also, I can't tell you how proud I am of the good citizens of your part of the world, and the extraordinary job you are all doing."

Bush said Thursday he has authorized Attorney General John Ashcroft to expedite benefits payments to the families of police and fire personnel who were killed, injured or are listed as missing.

Giuliani expressed gratitude and mourned the city's loss of some of its "bravest people."

The president's tone changed markedly as he promised Giuliani and the citizens of the New York area that anti-terrorism efforts will now become the main focus of his administration.

"My mindset is this," he said. "One, I weep and mourn with America. I wish I could comfort every single family whose lives are affected.

"But make no mistake about it. My resolve is steady and strong about winning this war that has been declared on America. It is a new kind of war, and this government will adjust. People who conducted these acts, and those who harbor them, will be held accountable for their actions."

Bush said the United States would, with the understanding and cooperation of an international coalition he is trying to build, "rout out and whip" the terrorists.

After speaking with Giuliani, Bush visited the Washington Hospital Center late Thursday morning, meeting 11 patients critically wounded at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush comfort a family member of a victim of the Pentagon terrorist attack during a visit to Washington Hospital Center on Thursday.  

He later met with the congressional delegations from the regions affected by the attack -- mainly with members of Congress from New York and Virginia.

Security remained high around the White House on Thursday, with several surrounding streets closed to vehicular traffic.

Portions of 15th Street, 17th Street and "E" Street NW would remain closed for "some time," the U.S. Secret Service said.

Asked if the United States received additional concerns or new, credible threats that would warrant the security measures, Secret Service spokesman Jim Macklin said, "I can't answer that."

Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary, described the move as a "precautionary matter" but said his "understanding" that the closures are "not permanent."

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