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Saturday, 25 May, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
On tour with President Bush - Day Four
The BBC's Nick Bryant is travelling with US President George W Bush on his European tour. He is sending us regular e-mails charting the president's progress around the continent.


Day Four - Dateline: St Petersburg
25 May

Sixteen months into his presidency, and there are times still when George W Bush has the look of an innocent abroad.

As he entered the gold-laced halls of the Kremlin on Thursday, his face was a portrait of complete bewilderment and wonder.

He had the startled gaze of a blind man, whose eyes had just been soaked for the first time with light.

President Bush and President Putin lay a wreath in St Petersburg
The trip has opened President Bush's eyes to European culture
Without question, the Kremlin is a magnificent site, a rich melange of shimmering marble, crystal chandeliers and gold leaf walls.

But it appeared from his amazed reaction that never before had he seen such architectural treasures.

Why am I telling you this? For the simple reason that it points to a larger issue, one of great pertinence to the most power human being on earth.

George W Bush is the least travelled President certainly of the past 50 years, and he has visited more countries in the past 16 months than the previous 55 years of his life.

Narrow world view

He is being given a presidential 'grand tour', absorbing many of the cultural experiences which many of his countrymen and women would have enjoyed by their mid-twenties.

For a leader who claims to be 'the Education President', he still has an awful lot to learn.

Recently, after a summit between Crown Prince Abdullah and George W Bush, the Saudis complained that much of the meeting had been taken up explaining the basic rudimentaries of the Arab-Israeli dispute.

President Bush and President Putin during a question and answer session
Bush and Putin took questions from students in St Petersburg
During the midst of the 1992 election, the previous President George Bush was asked to comment on the merits of Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas as a prospective world leader.

"He learnt all he knows about foreign policy at the International House of Pancakes," scoffed the President. It begs the obvious question: Where did his son receive his tutelage?

Here in St Petersburg, the President happily agreed to a question and answer session with students at the city's university, alma mater of one Vladimir Putin.

The president seems to like events like this. He has started to include them on many of his visits.

This was Bush as lecturer-President, promising the students "the most sophisticated seminar in international relations" they had ever heard.

Some members of the White House press corps struggled to suppress a laugh.




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