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Blair: Don't do terrorists' job for them

Blair: "I have total confidence we will win. But it will not be without pain or come without a price."

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned Britons that while new threats were uncovered daily, the government could not shut down every site threatened by terrorists because then "we would be doing their job for them."

"If a terrorist thought that all he had to do to shut down the travel industry, for example, was to issue a threat against our airports, we really would be conceding defeat in the war against terrorism," Blair said.

In his keynote foreign policy speech of the year at the Lord Mayor's banquet in London, Blair said his country was not immune to attack and urged everyone to be vigilant.

"This is a new type of war, fought in a different way by different means," said Blair. "It is a war I have total confidence we will win. But it will not be without pain or come without a price."

The prime minister singled out al Qaeda as a threat both at home and abroad and said those terrorist cells were being uncovered, watched and dealt with by British services.

Despite some success in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, however, the group has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that include the Bali bombing, a synagogue fire in Tunisia in which mainly German tourists died, and strikes on two ships in Yemen. (Full story)

In the 12 months since the September 11 terror attacks in the United States, the United Kingdom has allied itself closely to President Bush's war on terror and was the key co-sponsor of a tough U.N. Security Council resolution against Iraq demanding it get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.

Blair warned that in the face of possible new attacks the international community must stay unified against repressive states such as Iraq or North Korea who might have weapons of mass destruction to offer terrorists.

"Would al Qaeda buy weapons of mass destruction if it could? Certainly. Does it have the financial resources? Probably. Would it use such weapons? Definitely," said Blair.

Last week a British risk assessment document warning of the potential threat from "dirty bombs" and poison gas was withdrawn just 30 minutes after it was released. (Full story)

The assessment warned of terrorists plotting "something different, perhaps as surprising as the attacks on the World Trade Center," and suggested the possibility of poison gas attacks.

The Home Office pulled the document saying it was an early, unauthorized draft version, and replaced it with a document omitting references to both types of attack.

Blair described the world in 2002 as a far more dangerous place than during the Cold War, where crises would crop up and be resolved. Blair said now the threats came from terrorists in pursuit of a "cause with which there can be little or no rational negotiation."

And while security and possible military retaliation were important weapons against terrorism, the British leader pointed out that so were ideas and understanding.

"We need to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world. Where countries are undergoing a process of transition, we need to help. Where there are problems between us, we need to engage vigorously," Blair said.

"Above all, we need to understand the passion and anger the state of the Middle East peace process arouses."

He said he understood why Israel was justified in protecting itself against terror attacks. But the prime minister said the way to prevent new attacks did not lie in apportioning out blame, but in quickly moving the peace process forward to create a Palestinian state and recognition of Israel's right to exist.

"Until this happens, this issue hangs like a dark shadow over our world, chilling our relations with each other, poisoning the understanding of our motives and providing the cover under which the fanatics build their strength," he said.

The prime minister also urged the world to sow the seeds of peace by helping nations such as Afghanistan to rebuild, saying that investment would pay off many times over.

He also said that would prove to developing nations that "compassion is as important to us as the use of force where necessary."

And he said that while it was true that some terrorism arose from religion, "bridges of understanding" between different faiths could help bring an end to terrorism.

Blair suggested that by helping countries such as Ethiopia, which is suffering from a famine, the world would help make certain that the seeds of terrorism did not find fertile soil in a people's despair.

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