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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 11:28 GMT
Cook attacks state visit for Bush
Flags along the Mall
Mr Bush was looking forward to his 'historic' stay at Buckingham Palace
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook has said the decision to give US President George W Bush a full state visit to London is baffling.

Anti-war leaders are furious Mr Bush is coming at a time when many are growing sceptical about the war in Iraq.

Mr Cook told the BBC the special relationship with the US needed to stop being a "one-way street".

There is controversy over reported plans to restrict the route of protests to protect Mr Bush's security.

The president will arrive on Tuesday for a four-day visit, with a security operation reportedly involving 700 of his own secret service agents.

The police presence in London around the visit will be "unprecedented", with all of Scotland Yard's armed units and up to 5,000 officers deployed, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said.

Tuesday 18 November - Arrives and receives private welcome at Buckingham Palace
Wednesday 19 November - Meets Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy, gives speech on transatlantic alliance and meets UK families of 11 Sept victims before attending royal banquet with Queen
Thursday 20 November - Meets British soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, holds meetings with Tony Blair at Downing Street and hosts dinner at US Ambassador's residence
Friday 21 November - Travels to Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency to meet members of the public before returning to Washington

Tens of thousands of people are expected to protest next Thursday during the president's visit, with organisers hoping to march past the House of Commons.

Mr Bush has said he hopes to talk to the bereaved families of British soldiers killed in Iraq.

The president is making a full state visit, with a range of ceremonial trappings, whereas his predecessors have usually come as heads of government.

Mr Cook questioned why Mr Bush was being accorded a special privilege when President Bill Clinton had not.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "President Clinton did enormous good for Britain, particularly in the Northern Ireland peace process where he was a great help, and we never gave him a state visit.

"What I can't understand is why we believe that President Bush has done more for Britain, has been a closer friend to Britain or supporter of Britain's foreign interests than any previous American president.

"If we are going to proceed with it, what we must now do is look for President Bush to demonstrate that this relationship is a two-way street."

The BBC's Ben Brown
"For many people in Britain he is an unwelcome guest"

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