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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 00:12 GMT
Bush arrives back after UK visit
Mine's a pint: Bush and Blair at the Dun Cow
US President George Bush arrived back in Washington and said his visit to the UK had "reaffirmed the special relationship" the two countries share.

The president flew back from Teeside airport on Air Force One after spending the morning in Prime Minister Tony Blair's constituency of Sedgefield.

Mr Bush and wife Laura had a pub lunch with Mr and Mrs Blair and visited a local specialist sports school.

Police said around 500 people had protested during his visit to the area whlist the Stop the War Coalition claimed the number was closer to 1000.

BUSH'S PUB LUNCH
Cream of potato and leek soup
Fish and chips with mushy peas
Lemon creme brulee
Drinks: Non-alcoholic lager for Mr Bush, soft drinks for Mrs Bush and the Blairs

On landing in Washington, the president said: "We have got a special relationship with Britain and that was reaffirmed in the last three days."

A 1m security operation had been mounted around the Sedgefield constituency, with hundreds of police on duty for the visit.

After visiting Mr Blair's house in the village of Trimdon Colliery, Mr Bush had lunch with the prime minister at the Dun Cow Inn in Sedgefield town centre.

A party of 70 or 80 locals joined the leaders and their wives for the meal.

The Bushs and the Blairs all chose the same meal from the pub's menu, starting with cream of potato and leek soup, followed by fish and chips with mushy peas and then lemon creme brulee for pudding.

The teetotal president drank non-alcoholic lager while the Blairs and Mrs Bush sipped soft drinks.

Mr Bush told reporters: "We had a good lunch. I have had a wonderful trip. The prime minister has been a gracious host, as was Her Majesty."

After lunch, the party visited Sedgefield Community College, a specialist sports school, to talk to pupils and watch a display of football skills.

Private visit

The protesters in Sedgefield were addressed by leaders of the Stop the War coalition and local politicians.

Mr Blair shows off his Trimdon home
John Rees of the Stop the War coalition said: "We want George Bush to understand that when he scuttled out of London, there would be no escape from us in the North East.

"We have made a mockery of this visit and it deserves to be made a mockery of because they wanted to make a mockery of us.

"They wanted to use this visit to launch President Bush's election campaign."

But Mr Bush also received support as his helicopter landed on playing fields in Trimdon near Mr Blair's Myrobella home.

Coach driver Michael Evans said: "Mr Blair lives here, we wanted him as our MP, and if he wants to invite Mr Bush, then it is a great honour for the people of Trimdon.

'Great honour'

Tony Blair again proved that he is passionate about this relationship and is ready to take risks to preserve it
BBC News Online's Nick Assinder

"Everybody has turned out around the green to applaud him and, while there are a few people who do not agree with all the roads being closed, we have the world's most powerful man here in our village.

"It has never happened before and it is just a great honour to have him."

President Bush's state visit to the UK ended when he left Buckingham Palace earlier on Friday.

The trip to Sedgefield was deemed a private visit.

'United'

The state visit was overshadowed on Thursday by the bomb attacks in Turkey in which 27 people - including four Britons - lost their lives and at least 450 were injured.

My brother e-mails me now, he tells me he'd rather have Saddam Hussein back than the coalition troops... how bad must it be if they want Saddam back?
Alaa Edan, Iraqi living in Britain

On Friday, Mr Bush said he had spoken to the Turkish leader to discuss the attacks and offer US help to track down those responsible.

Speaking at the Sedgefield Community College, he said: "We have got a job to do and that's to defeat terror.

"We will work with any country willing to fight for freedom, just like Great Britain.

"This country's fortunate to have a Prime Minister who's clear-sighted about the threat of the 21st century."

Mr Blair told reporters later: "The last two or three days have been an interesting time to reflect on.

"It's been a time when there's been some very tragic things going on in the world."

'Determined'

He said the president's visit had also shown the "strong and enduring" relationship between the UK and US.

"These terrible attacks that are happening should make us determined to do what we need to do to restore order and justice and bring peace and freedom and democracy to people all over the world."

Roads in Sedgefield were closed to traffic during the presidential visit, while drains, post boxes and rubbish bins were sealed.

The nearby village of Trimdon Colliery, where Mr Blair has his constituency home, was also been affected by the traffic measures, as have some nearby main roads.

The overall police operation involved 1,300 officers from various forces.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Roland Buerk
"The end of a state visit that...saw President and Prime Minister, closer than ever"



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