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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 21:35 GMT
Bush defies critics on UK visit
President Bush with the Queen
The Queen gave the president a tour of the palace's galleries
US President George W Bush has carried out his first day of engagements in Britain despite protesters on the streets and a row over royal security.

The president, the first to be afforded a state visit, met the Queen at Buckingham Palace before giving a keynote speech at Banqueting House.

He used this to mount an impassioned defence of the war on Iraq.

Meanwhile an investigation was launched after a journalist posed as a footman in the palace where Mr Bush is staying.

Demonstrations

By Wednesday evening, a crowd waving anti-war banners had gathered outside Buckingham Palace where the Queen is hosting a banquet in Mr Bush's honour.

Police have made 31 arrests, mostly for minor offences.

Together, our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in a distant land at this very hour
George W Bush

Police estimate that about 1,200 people staged a protest through Oxford city centre on Wednesday night against the war in Iraq and President Bush's visit to Britain.

A US flag was burned during that demonstration and an effigy of the American president was toppled and set on fire.

About 500 people took part in a march in Manchester against the president's visit.

Earlier in the day, it emerged that a journalist from the Daily Mirror had applied for and got a job as a servant in Buckingham Palace.

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced a review of security at the palace when it became apparent the undercover reporter had used a false reference.

Mr Blunkett told the House of Commons that the Security Commission would conduct a thorough investigation.

He said employment checks on the man were "insufficient" but appropriate criminal checks were carried out.

Iraq war

Piers Morgan, the Mirror's editor, said reporter Ryan Parry had gained "incredible access" to the Queen and her guests.

Security has been a sensitive issue around the presidential visit with Scotland Yard putting in place a 5m operation and more than 5,000 police on the capital's streets in addition to the White House's own security staff.

In his speech, Mr Bush joked about his detractors and sought to defend the war in Iraq.

"The dictator had been given many chances to account for his weapons programmes. Now the resolutions he defied have been enforced," he said.

Demonstrators outside Buckingham Palace
Protests were low-key but vocal outside Buckingham Palace

"Who will say that Iraq was better off when Saddam Hussein was strutting and killing, or that the world was safer when he held power?"

Mr Bush said the UK and US shared "a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest".

"We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings," he said.

"Together, our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in a distant land at this very hour."

At the banquet, the Queen echoed Mr Bush's sentiment about the "special relationship" the countries shared.

"We share the confidence - and the courage - to try to make this a more prosperous, a safer and, above all, a freer world," the Queen told VIP guests, including Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Bush, in his reply, said: "We have passed through great adversity together and we have risen to great challenges together."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman has said it is not ruling out legal action against the Mirror and its reporter.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The Mall was dressed for the occasion, but deserted"



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