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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Condoleezza visit facing protests
Condoleezza Rice
Ms Rice is scheduled to arrive in Liverpool on Friday
Anti-war campaigners are planning to stage demonstrations during a visit to the North West by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Stop The War Coalition said her visit to Blackburn and Liverpool, as a guest of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, had caused "outrage".

Mark Holt, chairman of Merseyside Stop The War Coalition, said Ms Rice and Mr Straw were not welcome.

A gala concert to welcome Ms Rice to Liverpool takes place on Friday.

'Lies in rubble'

Liverpool poet Roger McGough has pulled out of the concert.

He was due to compere a performance by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, but said he did not want to take sides over the issue.

Mr Holt said about Ms Rice's visit: "They want to make this some wonderful cultural event to show off the City of Culture.

"We say it would be better to say no to this visit in remembrance of the Iraqi culture which lies in rubble or in the fires still burning in the flames they lit in the Middle East."

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