'America's soul wept with grief,' says Donald Trump in first commemoration of 9/11 anniversary as president

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Donald Trump said “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief” for each of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11 as he led his first commemorations of the attacks.

The US president warned his country’s enemies “America cannot be intimidated” as he addressed an audience at the Pentagon, one of the three sites targeted on September 11, 2001.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijackers flew commercial planes into New York’s World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Mr Trump, a native New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, said the attack was worse than the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour during the Second World War because it targeted civilians – and vowed that it would never be repeated.

First address: Mr Trump led commemorations for the first time (AP)

“The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit,” Mr Trump said at the Pentagon, where he was joined by defence secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“But America cannot be intimidated and those who try will join a long list of vanquished enemies who dared test our mettle.”

Falling silent: Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange pay their respects (AP)

He said that when America is united, “no force on earth can break us apart”.

Mr Trump also offered words of comfort for the many whose loved ones perished in the attacks.

“For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don’t think about the loved one stolen from your life. Today, our entire nation grieves with you,” Mr Trump said.

Later, he said “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief for every life taken on that day”.

In the past Mr Trump has made unverified claims about September 11, including claims that thousands of Muslims were “cheering” in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, as the towers collapsed.

There is no evidence in news archives of mass celebrations by Muslims there.

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