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Bush praises Britain after Blair meeting

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Wednesday the United States had "no better friend in the world than Great Britain.

Bush met Wednesday afternoon at the White House with British Prime Minister Tony Blair for discussions that included the military campaign under way in Afghanistan, humanitarian efforts and plans for a post-Taliban regime.

In a news conference after the meeting, Bush said the Taliban was crumbling but that it would be a long struggle.

"We're patient and our good friends are patient, which is bad news for the Taliban and the people they harbor," Bush said.

Blair said his country was "completely committed to see this thing through" and that he was sure that the coalition would achieve its objectives.

Blair arrived in the United States Wednesday aboard a chartered Concorde jet and is due back in London Thursday to met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

During an interview Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Blair said most Muslims feel revulsion toward terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and that worldwide opposition toward bin Laden is growing.

"I think there is a genuine sense of revulsion amongst the vast majority of Muslims" toward bin Laden, Blair said.

"I think there's an increasing recognition in that world that, for example, those people who are moderates and who follow the true spirit and religion of Islam have to take on the extremists that are trying to abuse Islam for political ends."

CNN's Larry King talks to British Prime Minister Tony Blair (November 6)

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Blair acknowledged that "people want very quick results" but need to be willing to "see it through to the end."

"We need to say, 'Look, let's go back and go through the argument again as to why it's happening, why we have to do this, why we have to see it through and why we have to see through what is happening in Afghanistan,' not just for the peace of mind of our own citizens, but to free people in Afghanistan from one of the most wretched and despised and oppressive regimes anywhere in the world," Blair said.

Blair also said it is time to shore up relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

The United States launched the attacks against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban on October 7 when they refused to hand over bin Laden.

Blair met over the weekend with several European leaders, including French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar, to discuss the antiterrorism coalition, which he said is "shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. in seeing this thing through."

Seeing it through, he reiterated, means a war against terrorism worldwide -- not just in Afghanistan.

"We need to be making sure that as a result of the action we've taken the world -- not just our own countries, but the world -- is a safer and a better place," he said.

Blair echoed Bush's contention that bin Laden's threats to use weapons of mass destruction should be taken seriously.

"There is no doubt at all. As I've constantly said to people, if they could have killed not 6,000 innocent people but 60,000 or even 600,000, they would," Blair said.

"Therefore, when people ask us why we are pursuing this action in Afghanistan and this action against terrorism, I say, 'Just go back to what happened on the 11th of September, remember how we felt, remember what we thought about it, remember the grief and the agony of people and then realize that these people would do it again -- and worse if they could.' "

He said stopping bin Laden and shutting down his al Qaeda organization were only the first steps in targeting international terrorism.

Allies will have to deal with the ways terrorist groups fund their operations, acquire weapons and move between countries, and that will take time, he said.


• The White House
• 10 Downing Street

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