- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

DARLINGTON, England — President Bush yesterday declared Turkey a new front in the war against terrorism and offered to share intelligence with Ankara a day after deadly bombings in Istanbul.

“Terrorists have decided to use Turkey as a front,” said Mr. Bush, noting two major attacks there in recent days. “Iraq is a front; Turkey is a front — anywhere where the terrorists think they can strike is a front.”

The president offered to share intelligence with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call from Air Force One above England.

“I told him that we will work with him to defeat terror,” Mr. Bush told reporters. “The best way to defeat al Qaeda-type killers is to share intelligence and then work with local authorities to hunt these killers down.”

The president also commiserated with Mr. Erdogan about terrorism’s indiscriminate cruelty. The latest attacks in Istanbul killed at least 27 persons, including four British nationals. Nearly 450 also were wounded when suspected al Qaeda suicide bombers struck the British Consulate and a British bank with trucks loaded with explosives.

“Both leaders affirmed that they stand shoulder to shoulder and both discussed the idea that terror knows no theological or religious boundaries,” said White House spokesman Sean McCormack.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who gave Mr. Bush a tour of his private home in northeast England, said the reaction to the Istanbul bombings should be swift and severe.

“When you’re attacked by people, by these wicked acts, there is only one response that is possible to make,” Mr. Blair said. “And that is to get out there and be absolutely up front and say: ‘We are not tolerating this. We’re going to fight back.’”

Standing next to Mr. Blair at a school, the president said the leaders’ “biggest job” was “to protect our people and to create the conditions necessary for peace to prevail.”

He added: “And yesterday’s attack in Turkey reminded us that we hadn’t completed our job yet.”

Although Mr. Blair expressed solidarity with Mr. Bush on the issue of terrorism, he failed to win the release of nine British battlefield detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also failed to persuade the president to end steel tariffs that are harming Great Britain’s economy.

Mr. Blair said these were small issues in the grand scheme of Anglo-American relations.

“People sometimes talk about this alliance between Britain and the Unites States of America as if it were some score card — it isn’t,” he said. “It’s an alliance of values; it’s an alliance of common interests; it’s an alliance of common convictions and beliefs.”

Mr. Bush agreed.

“The people of Great Britain have got grit and strength and determination, and are willing to take on a challenge,” the president said. “And we’re being challenged. We’re being challenged by killers, cold-blooded killers.

“And we’re going to prevail,” he said. “We’re more likely to prevail working together. And that’s the importance of the relationship.”

After spending three days in London, the president spent the final day of his state visit touring Mr. Blair’s home district in northeast England. The two men drank tea in the prime minister’s modest brick home in the village of Trimdon.

Later, the leaders and their wives ate fish and chips at the Dun Cow Inn, a restaurant in nearby Sedgefield. The group also dined on a British specialty known as “mushy peas.”

One day after tens of thousands of demonstrators massed in London to protest the president’s visit, fewer than 300 gathered in Sedgefield. But there were also scores of Bush supporters, including some who waved American and British flags.

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