Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 15:16 UK

Watching the Bush and Brown show

Sketch
By Laura Kuenssberg
Political correspondent, BBC News

Just as the gathered hacks were about to expire from heat and boredom after an hour-and-a-half wait, they were "shhhshed" - the president and the PM were about to arrive.

George Bush and Gordon Brown
Mr Bush said the PM was 'tough on terror' and people should appreciate it

The outrageously ornate Locarno Room in the Foreign Office fell quiet. The wooden double doors at the front swung open.

A worried huddle of men in grey suits came first - officials from the British and American sides. Downing Street press officers with their Sunday best on, standing by.

Dana Perino, George Bush's press secretary stuck out, almost standing to attention in a bright red jacket.

Press pack

Then out they strode - Gordon Brown, looking grey and exhausted - perhaps he stayed up too late in Downing Street after the US-UK dinner last night?

George W Bush, by contrast, was spry, with a twinkle in his eye.

Perhaps he was just delighted that this was the last time he would have to face the British press - normally more trenchant in their questioning than the Americans.

Barely 30 seconds had passed before Gordon Brown mentioned Winston Churchill

Maybe his old friend, Tony Blair, had told him a joke about Gordon Brown over breakfast this morning and he couldn't get it out of his head.

Anyway, from the opening moments of the two men's press conference it was clear what this was about - Afghanistan, Iraq and how history would view President Bush's relationship with Britain.

Barely 30 seconds had passed before Gordon Brown mentioned Winston Churchill. Then as he cantered through a list of what the men had discussed, he revealed that more British troops, including logistics and training staff, were to be sent to Afghanistan.

Multilateralism

George Bush then opened his remarks thanking Gordon Brown for "a good dinner" last night - roast beef and trifle we're told.

And, possibly with an eye on how he will be remembered, he said he had enjoyed the company of the British historians who also attended the private meal in Downing Street - perhaps invited to make sure the conversation flowed, or give the president advice on his legacy.

Mr Bush was quick to praise Gordon Brown's decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan and the PM' s overall stance on terrorism.

One of the things I want to leave behind is a multilateralism ... to remove tyrants
George Bush

The "first thing about Gordon Brown", he said was that he was "tough on terror, and people in this country and around the world should appreciate it".

The PM has not made himself many friends in Westminster in the rumpus over his plans for new terror laws, but perhaps he can take some comfort in the fact that George Bush thought it was a good idea.

The president also let us into what many might have thought he had kept secret up until now.

Having caused international controversy by sending troops into Iraq, the President confided, "one of the things I want to leave behind is a multilateralism ... to remove tyrants".

Future forecast

His critics will wonder if this is a new found belief in working with other countries and listening to their concerns, or the fastest ever re-write of recent history.

Both men denied any division over their plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, President Bush revealing that Gordon Brown "talks to his commanders, and then picks up the phone" to him.

They spoke warmly of each other, yet there was still none of the easy affection, the relaxed body language between these two men that there was with Bush and Tony Blair.

But with only 217 days to go until President Bush leaves office, perhaps it suits Gordon Brown not to stay too close.

The two made a big play of what unites them, the political reality of dealing with troops abroad fighting unpopular wars.

But from this appearance in the grandeur of the Foreign Office, once Mr Bush is out of the White House, don't expect them to stay close friends.





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