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image source, Reuters

US President Joe Biden has urged unity as his country prepares to remember the victims of the 11 September attacks.

In a video released on the eve of the 20th anniversary, he paid tribute to the 2,977 people who lost their lives.

"We honour all those who risked and gave their lives in the minutes, hours, months and years afterwards," Mr Biden added, speaking of the emergency workers who responded to the attacks.

Commemoration events are due to take place on Saturday.

"No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago," the president said.

He acknowledged the "darker forces of human nature – fear and anger, resentment and violence against Muslim Americans" which followed the attacks, but said that unity had remained the US' "greatest strength".

"We learned that unity is the one thing that must never break," he added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meanwhile said the attacks had failed "to shake our belief in freedom and democracy". Among the dead in the 11 September attacks were 67 Britons.

More on the 11 September attacks

  • What happened on 9/11?
  • 9/11 victim's son on day world
  • From United to Disunited States – the years since 9/11

The attacks, which were planned by al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, saw four US passenger jets seized by suicide attackers – two of which were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, just outside the US capital, Washington DC, and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back.

media captionWatch: The heroes of 9/11's forgotten maritime rescue mission