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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Bush visits the Palace
Bush meets the Queen
Pleasantries were exchanged at the palace
US President George Bush has had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on his first official visit to Britain.

The president, who had spent the morning sightseeing in London, told his royal host: "I really appreciate your hospitality."

But the British weather was less hospitable as Mr Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh reviewed a guard of honour in the palace grounds in the rain.
Greenpeace protest
Greenpeace staged an anti-Star Wars protest at the Palace

After lunch, Mr Bush was travelling in his bomb-proof presidential limousine to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair at Chequers.

The president, dressed in a dark business suit, and his wife Laura were greeted at the Grand Entrance in the Palace quadrangle by the Queen and Prince Philip.

Handshakes and pleasantries were exchanged but there was no bow or curtsey from the American visitors to British royalty.

An unexpected visitor to the Queen's official residence was 19-year-old Barbara Bush, who apparently decided at the last minute to go along to the Palace.

A group of Greenpeace protesters staged a protest against Mr Bush's Son of Star Wars missile defence plans outside the palace grounds.

At one point a streaking protester broke away and ran towards the convoy but was manhandled away by police.

Museum visit

Earlier George and Laura Bush had visited the British Museum's Reading Room where they read to local schoolchildren.

As a devotee of Sir Winston Churchill the president was also visiting the Cabinet war rooms at Horse Guards before travelling on to the palace.
Bush's UK schedule
18 July:
arrived at RAF Brize Norton
Stays at US embassy, London
19 July:
visits the Reading room at the British museum
sees the Cabinet war rooms at Horse Guards.
lunch with the Queen
Meets Tony Blair at Chequers
20 July:
leaves for Genoa

The president arrived in the UK on Wednesday evening and will travel to the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, with Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday.

There he is expected to face more strong criticism over his withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement on global warming and the proposed missile defence system.

Those issues are also likely to be on the agenda for the meeting between the president and Mr Blair although Britain has been less openly hostile to the US stance than other European states.

BBC diplomatic editor Brian Hanrahan says Mr Blair may put forward the UK's traditional "bridging role" between the US and Europe.

Queen was 'neat'

Mr Bush has met the Queen once before over dinner in the White House when his father was president.

He said: "I found her charming, she was great, a wonderful sense of humour. She was neat."

The president arrived in England to a red carpet welcome at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, accompanied by his wife Laura.

Bush
Bush tries a phone at Churchill's Cabinet war Rooms
But he was also greeted by placard-waving protesters opposed to his decision to press ahead with the "Son of Star Wars" missile defence programme.

The Campaign Against Climate Change is planning a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Thursday. Amnesty International was also protesting against the use of the death penalty in the US.

Mr Blair is expected to urge America to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kyoto treaty, which it refused to sign.

The prime minister enjoyed a close relationship with Mr Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, but Anglo-American relationships have been strained by disagreements over climate change.

Tony Blair told MPs at Wednesday's session of prime minister's questions there was disagreement with the US on the treaty.

"What is important is that the US administration has agreed that the end of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important and right and we are now debating the means," he continued.

Mr Blair said Britain remained committed to the Kyoto agreement and he hoped to "bridge the gap" on the issue.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Robbins reports
"The president's first taste of London"
The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Washington
speaks to President Bush in an exclusive BBC interview
Labour MP Phyllis Starkey
"People are extremely concerned about the implications of missile defence"
Tom Reid, Washington Post
"George Bush is a very confident man"
See also:

18 Jul 01 | UK
Bush in UK ahead of summit
18 Jul 01 | Europe
Genoa set for summit onslaught
18 Jul 01 | Business
Blair targets G8 protesters
18 Jul 01 | Business
Bush favours grants for poor nations
12 Jul 01 | Americas
Death throes of ABM treaty
16 Jul 01 | Europe
Why Russia fears US 'Star Wars'
18 Jul 01 | Americas
Bush defiant ahead of UK visit
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