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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Bush's Europe tour diary: Day Five

US President George W Bush has continued his European tour with a visit to Italy, where he has had his first audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

BBC state department correspondent Jonathan Beale is travelling with the president and recording his experiences in a daily diary.

DAY FIVE: SATURDAY 9 JUNE 1226

The president's private audience with the Pope looked a bit like a visit to the headmaster's office.

He walked through the Vatican flanked by Swiss guards going at the pace of a death march.

US President George W Bush leaves the Vatican inside his limousine.
The US-made limousine that let the president down

Eventually he arrived at the Pope's study and was sat behind the desk as the pontiff took to his throne.

Looked like it could be a right good rollicking but we were not allowed to stay to find out.

The president's stretch - armour-plated - limo stalled while he returned from the Vatican to the US embassy. A statement on American engineering? Perhaps he'd have been better off in a Fiat Multipla.

After he briefly got out to change cars, it started up again.

But I can't quite understand why Potus [President of the United States] has to travel everywhere in a massive jumbo jet preceded by a huge transport plane carrying his own limos and helicopter.

The security is already suffocating wherever he goes.

Every other G8 leader was happy to travel in a German police helicopter from Rostok airport - except him.

No doubt it's all the trappings of a superpower.

But if he's serious about tackling global warming, perhaps it would be best to lose the limo and Marine 1.

DAY FOUR: FRIDAY 8 JUNE, 1915

To Rome - where even the policemen look cool in their designer shades.

They're clustered in groups around the US embassy and White House press hotel - seemingly not doing very much.

But somewhere out there, we are told, thousands of anti-war, anti-Bush protesters are gathering.

Police seal a manhole cover in Rome, 08/06/07
Security is so tight that even manholes are sealed
Helicopters hover overhead, the streets and subways have been closed off.

This being Italy, the Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, has had to urge ministers of his fragile centre-left coalition not to join the protesters on the street. President Bush says he'll be in "listening mode" when he meets Pope Benedict for the first time.

Not sure which of them has a hotline to God.

While their "moral compass" may be pointing in the same direction on abortion and gay marriage, it is not on the issue of the Iraq war.

Listening mode may have to turn into being lectured mode.




SEE ALSO
Europe diary: Missile defence
01 Jun 07 |  Europe



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