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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 12:30 GMT
Media predict red face for Blair
World press graphic

As George W Bush prepares for his state visit to Britain, the world's press highlights the gap between the warm welcome he is likely to receive from Tony Blair and the less enthusiastic reception planned by protesters.

Most observers focus on Iraq, but commentators in Russia and China also look at electoral considerations, and a South African editorial urges the two leaders to revive the world trade talks as a weapon against the root causes of terrorism.

This is the right moment to show our firmness on the side of the US, Blair told employers in Birmingham, defending the US president's visit to London. However, he is one of the few British people who think so. Bush will not find a triumphal reception, in spite of a charm offensive.

Italian TV report

In 1918, crowds, grateful to [Woodrow Wilson] for his country's help during World War I, had strewn Wilson's path with roses. One can be pretty certain that George W Bush won't get any petal-reception when he arrives in London this week... It would be wise for the visiting president (and his touchingly delusional host) to mind the gap that there is in today's Anglo-American relations.

The Hindustan Times - India

Blair can live with the mockery of newspapers writing that Bush is coming to "check up on his poodle"... What is worse is how Bush's visit is limiting Blair's domestic room for manoeuvre. When parliament votes on his health reforms, many Labour MPs will be voting so enthusiastically against because they think he is already mortally wounded.

Handelsblatt - Germany

George W Bush's state visit is taking place at a most unsuitable time... The situation in Iraq is worsening by the day, and British public opinion is no longer with Prime Minister Tony Blair on this subject... But it was unthinkable to postpone the visit, for the sake of the image of firmness that the leaders have wanted to project since the conflict started.

Diario de Noticias - Portugal

The main issue emerging in connection with this visit is: can President Bush and Prime Minister Blair work out a strategy in Iraq that will enable them, if not to win the war, then at least to ensure re-election for another term?

Kommersant Daily - Russia

Ever since Bush dragged Britain into the Iraq war, Blair's domestic support has been sliding, and even some Labour MPs... bluntly attack him as a "Pekinese dog" at Bush's feet... Analysts have therefore indicated that during Bush's visit to Britain, while loudly praising the traditional friendship between the US and Britain, Blair cannot but pay a price for following Bush's lead. In one and a half years the curtain will open on Britain's national elections, and Blair... will be unable to shift the focus towards domestic issues to quell the dissatisfaction of various political forces.

China Daily - China

After the 11 September attacks Blair hoped to become an "elder brother" sharing his knowledge and experience, knowing the US leader was inexperienced in global politics... He miscalculated... A group of European countries, France and Germany in particular, had no intention of heeding London... Washington emphasised its friendship with the UK at every opportunity, but in practice Bush had no intention of letting himself be led by the hand... If he manages to weather this difficult time and the Iraq mission is successful... Blair might become a statesman on a par with Churchill.

Wprost - Poland

When the trip was planned over a year ago, it made sense for the two to exchange visits. Not now. Bush... is now a liability to Blair... The Hutton commission has embarrassed Blair by exposing the extent to which Blair and Bush went to strengthen their patently weak case to remove Saddam... This week's agenda is likely to be overshadowed by concerns of the rich and powerful... Blair must ask Bush to use his clout for good of the poor and the weak [and] urge Bush to help restart the WTO talks which collapsed in Cancun... The success of the talks is key to addressing some of the reasons for global terrorism.

Sowetan - South Africa

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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