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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 06:47 GMT
Bush brushes up on 'his Geordie'
President Bush
The President will visit Tony Blair's Sedgefield constituency
President George W Bush says he will have to come to terms with the accent when he travels to the north-east of England.

Mr Bush will be the first US President to visit the region since Jimmy Carter in 1977, when he arrives in Britain next week.

As part of the state visit he will be a guest of Prime Minister Tony Blair in his Sedgefield constituency.

He will spend one of his three days in the UK in the North East.

It's hard for a President to get out to the countryside
George Bush
Asked if he will be able to understand the accent, the President replied: "My Geordie is probably just about as bad as my English.

"And I hope they understand Texan. You know what I'm saying?

"I can't wait to go to his constituency. It's hard for a President to get out to the countryside. I travel in something of a bubble."

Mr Bush also agreed he could use a phrase book to understand the strong local accents adding: "They'll need theirs, too, I'm afraid."

'Friend' Blair

"But I'm looking forward to it. This is going to be an historic trip, and it's going to be one that will be in my memory for a long time."

He said he was working on a speech that will recognise the importance of the relationship between the US and the UK.

"I'm really looking forward to spending time with my friend - and I emphasise 'my friend' - Tony Blair.

"He's a smart, capable, trustworthy friend, and we've got a lot to talk about."

Anti-war protesters say they will mark Mr Bush's visit to the region with demonstrations against Britain and America's actions in Iraq.

Martin Levy of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We don't think the visit of Mr Bush is a great honour for the North East.

"We had a lot of support in the run up to the war and during the conflict and I'm certain we can expect the same again when Mr Bush comes to County Durham."

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