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Analysis: An ambitious and emotive speech

Blair blamed Osama bin Laden for the September 11 attacks  

By CNN European Political Editor Robin Oakley

LONDON, England (CNN) -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a hugely ambitious speech at his party's conference, attempting to appeal to the United States and Afghans, as well address the Taliban.

Blair, who has been more strident than President George W. Bush at times over a response to the September 11 attacks, said the U.S.-inspired war against terrorists and those that harbour them had only one outcome -- "our victory not theirs."

He told the Labour Party's annual conference in Brighton, southern England: "We will put a trap around the regime. Its choice is surrender bin Laden or surrender power."

He reassured the U.S. that the UK would continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with it. His country had been there for the U.S. at the beginning, and would be there until the last, he said.

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Watch British PM Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference (part 1) (October 2)

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More analysis  by CNN's European Political Editor

Blair issues Taliban ultimatum  
Transcript of Blair's address  
CNN's Robin Oakley: A speech of huge emotion
169 sec / 1.78MB
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But he used his speech, in front of the world's media, to argue that something good could come out of September 11 as a result of the coming together and power of community.

He said the relatives and friends of those who died in the U.S. attacks wanted something better than revenge.

Using hugely emotive language, he identified with the victims arguing that the world coalition forged out of the horror of the suicide attacks could be used to help bring stability and peace in the Middle East and Africa.

Blair has a keen interest in African issues and brought the world's attention to the plight of many living on the continent when he described it as a scar on the conscience of the world which it must face up to.

He was seizing the opportunity to drive the theme home.

But Blair's speech was also a very balanced one, with a message for everybody.

He attempted to appeal to Afghans caught in 20 years of war and recent drought by saying the U.S. and the UK would not walk away from the country after any military action. Instead, the coalition would aim to help create a better society and government, he said.

The coalition would try to avoid civilian casualties in any military action, he added.

And Blair emphasised that the suicide strikes on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were also a blow against innocent Muslims who died.

By stressing that any action against terrorism would not be an act of retaliation against Islam, Blair was trying to shore up the global coalition and prevent any anti-Muslim backlash.

Finally, Blair had a message for the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan, accused of harbouring the prime suspect in the attacks, Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.

"Our way of life is a great deal stronger and will last a great deal longer than the actions of fanatics who are small in number and now face a unified world against them," he said.

He accused the Taliban regime of being founded on fear and funded by drugs -- pointing out that 90 percent of the drugs sold on British streets came from the central Asian country.

He criticised the Taliban for its treatment of women, who are refused an education and freedoms.

By appearing to be more belligerent than the U.S. president, Blair was attempting to assert his credentials as a world leader. After all, it was Blair who pushed the former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, into a more active policy in Kosovo.


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