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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 04:05 GMT
Papers assess Bush visit

Almost all of the papers devote several pages to reports and analysis of the first day of US President George Bush's state visit to Britain.

The Times focused on the security surrounding the president.

American secret service misgivings grew as tens of thousands of demonstrators prepared to descend on Whitehall during Mr Bush's talks in Number 10 with Tony Blair, it said.

It said US officials first grew alarmed when a veteran peace campaigner climbed the gates of Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening.

"This would never have happened at the White House," it quoted one US source as saying.

And it blamed security fears for the cancellation of an engagement of US Secretary of State Colin Powell at London University.

The Telegraph focused on Mr Bush's foreign policy speech in Whitehall, in which he described Britain as America's "closest friend" while delivering an impassioned defence of the war in Iraq.

They were "some of the warmest words ever used by an American president to a prime minister," it said.

The Sun described thousands of cheering supporters outside Buckingham Palace
And it was impressed by his rounding on Middle East rulers, including Yasser Arafat, for bringing misery to their own people.

"If he continues on this course, Mr Bush should create new realities on the ground... as assuredly as Ronald Reagan did when he asserted his belief that the peoples of eastern Europe need not be consigned to despotism for ever," it said.

The Daily Express described the president's "rictus grin" as he heard, to the tune of She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, a protester singing: "If you think the War's for Oil Stop the War..."

But it gave the visit scant attention, preferring instead to devote pages of coverage to the revelations about the decor of Buckingham Palace made in the Mirror on Wednesday.

The Mirror itself gives Windsor Castle the same treatment over several pages on Thursday.

'More wars'

But turning to Mr Bush's visit on page 12, it believed the US president had vowed to start more wars, when he said violent regimes sometimes had to be tackled with violence.

The Independent said Mr Bush's Whitehall address was "fluent and funny" - but the paper did not agree with much of what he said.

Tony Blair yesterday suffered a string of domestic political setbacks... underlining perceptions that the government is still struggling to regain momentum in the aftermath of the Iraq war
Financial Times
There was also an "underlying anxiety about the nature and intentions of the non-American world that ill behoves the world's pre-eminent power," it believed.

However, it also seemed less interested in what Mr Bush had to say than in the row about the Mirror journalist who was employed as a footman at Buckingham Palace in the weeks before his visit.

It said an emergency investigation into the security of the Royal household was ordered by Mr Blair on Wednesday.

The Financial Times focused on the string of domestic political setbacks Mr Blair suffered on the first full day of Mr Bush's visit.

Battles over foundation hospitals and aspects of the Criminal Justice Bill underlined "perceptions that the government is still struggling to regain momentum in the aftermath of the Iraq war", it said.

And it also argued that, in going to war, Mr Blair had paid a heavy price for a few concessions and kind words from Mr Bush.

Moreover, the part of Mr Bush's foreign policy speech concerning Israel and the Palestinians was unlikely to be translated into action, because he would be too tied up fighting the next election to pay it much attention, it said.

Saudi question

The Daily Mail did not tackle the Bush visit until page eight.

And then it compared it with "the last time a cowboy came to see the Queen" - when Buffalo Bill entertained Queen Victoria with his Wild West Show for some minutes. It complained that that occasion was more fun.

The paper scented an interesting policy shift on the Middle East though - saying Mr Bush had signalled that Saudi Arabia in particular must move more quickly towards democracy.

The Telegraph was impressed by Mr Bush's foreign policy speech

The Sun, under the headline "Luvya Dubya", had a different take from most of the papers on the response to Mr Bush by crowds gathered near Buckingham Palace.

It said thousands of supporters turned out for Mr Bush and the Queen at Buckingham Palace - their cheers drowning out the heckles of protesters.

The paper was also moved by Mr Bush's speech, in particular his warning that terrorism had to be met head-on.

"He spelled out the stark reality facing an alarmingly complacent Western world - that extremists are out to destroy it at any cost," it said in an editorial.

'Two worlds'

"It is astonishing that such obvious truths are unacceptable to so many."

The Guardian said Mr Bush was moving in two worlds in London.

In one, there were angry politicians, thousands of protesters, and continuing violence in Iraq.

In another - inside his security "bubble" - all was calm as he sat in an enormous motorcade of limousines and met numerous dignitaries in full dress uniform.

The paper said nothing encapsulated the disconnection between the two worlds as neatly as Mr Bush's speech, in which he promises much in theory which is simply not delivered in practice.

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