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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Bush's greeting for his pal Blair
By James Landale
BBC News

George Bush and Tony Blair at the G8 summit in St Petersburg

Forget prime minister, Mr Blair, or even plain old Tony. The new way to address the prime minister, we learn, is "Yo Blair".

That at least is how George Bush greets the PM in private, according to unguarded remarks they both made in front of an open G8 microphone.

We also learn how Mr Blair refers to international commerce as "this trade thingy".

And there was some strong language used as well. The US president apparently believes the Middle East conflict could be ended if only pressure were put on Syria "to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit".

Free legal advice

Who says Cherie Blair hasn't got guts? At the G8 summit her husband got it in the ear every time he voiced concerns about Russia's human rights record.

President Putin, who smarts at every jibe, retaliated by talking of "the fight against corruption" in Britain and referred in the same breath to Lord Levy, the PM's fundraiser.

The Russian president followed up by criticising Britain for sheltering a Chechen separatist who he believes is a terrorist.

Mrs Blair's response? She slipped quietly out of the summit and visited human rights activists in St Petersburg. Not only that - she even offered them free legal advice, which as a human rights lawyer she is qualified to provide.

Nevertheless all the elements of quite a diplomatic row were there and indeed lots of bushy Russian eyebrows were raised.

But Mr Putin's spokesman insisted Mrs Blair had every right to visit whoever she wanted and it just went to show that Russia did actually have some human rights groups after all.

Fashionable shower?

As well as addressing the Middle East crisis and sorting out world trade, this was the summit that was supposed to abolish rain.

President Putin, we were told, had deployed air force jets to "seed" incoming clouds so they rained over Finland instead.

Inevitably St Petersburg was drenched in torrential rain for much of the weekend.

However, such was the organisers' lack of confidence in their president's promise that they provided the thousands of summiteers with an anorak.

At first we were rather sniffy, but as the heavens opened this rather natty blue waterproof became the must-wear item of St Petersburg.


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