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Blair ready for long battle

British Prime Minister Blair enters St. Thomas Church in New York
British Prime Minister Blair enters St. Thomas Church in New York  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed his country was prepared for a lengthy battle against terror.

Blair said Britain would be part of the fight against terror "for as long as it takes."

He was in Washington D.C. with President George W. Bush, after having attended a memorial service in New York for Britons who died in the hijack attacks on September 11.

Blair said: ""I believe we have to go on fighting terrorism as long as it takes.

"What happened on September 11 was, of course, a brutal and horrific attack on America but it was a demonstration of what these people are capable of in any part of the world.

"There is no limit to what they would do that is moral. They have no regard for the sanctity of human life. The only limits on what they do are practical and technical."

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Blair has been in the forefront of the campaign to build a coalition against those who planned the New York and Washington hijack attacks, including prime suspect Osama bin Laden.

He was in the U.S. for just a few hours as part of a frantic diplomatic mission that has already seen him meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

After hearing Bush's speech to U.S. lawmakers -- in which the president outlined new domestic security measures and the demands that Washington was making on the Taliban in Afghanistan -- Blair flew back to Europe for an emergency summit of EU leaders.

Earlier, at a New York memorial for British victims of the attacks Blair spoke of a "surging of the human spirit" around the world and a strengthening of the bonds between Britons and Americans after last week's suicide attacks.

"There are no words that can truly comfort those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones today," Blair told a congregation of 1,500 people at St. Thomas's church in Manhattan.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan were in the congregation among relatives of those lost and presumed dead in the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington.

"Nine days on, there is still the shock and disbelief, there is anger, there is fear, but there is also -- throughout the world -- a profound sense of solidarity. There is courage, there is a surging of the human spirit," Blair said.

"Amid the enormity of what has happened to America, nobody will forget that this was the worst terrorist attack on British citizens in my country's history. The bonds between our countries, for so long so strong, are even stronger now."

Heavy traffic meant that Blair was unable to visit rescue workers at the site of the collapsed towers. His wife, Cherie, was expected to expected to visit a fire station after the service.

In advance of his arrival in the city, Blair, who is due to travel to Washington for a meeting with President George W. Bush, paid tribute to the rescue workers.

Writing in the New York Post, he said: "New York has always been admired around the world. But that admiration, I can promise you, has never been greater than now.

Blair gave a reading at a service at St Thomas Church in New York
Blair gave a reading at a service at St Thomas Church in New York  

"The courage, resilience and humanity shown by the people of this city over the last few, dreadful days has inspired us all."

Blair said people in Britain had shared the city's "profound disbelief, shock and grief."

A statement from the Queen read out at the service said: ''These are dark and harrowing times ... my thoughts and prayers are with you now and in the days ahead.

''Grief is the price we pay for love,'' she added.

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• Iran warns over 'hasty' reaction
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• 10 Downing Street
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