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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
Bush 'apology' over bomb flights
Tony Blair and George Bush at the White House
Tony Blair and George Bush at the White House
US President George Bush has apologised to Tony Blair over the use of Prestwick Airport to refuel planes carrying bombs to Israel, Mr Blair's spokesman says.

The spokesman said Mr Bush gave a "one-line" apology for the fact proper procedures had not been followed.

The two men held talks in the US on Friday over the Middle East crisis.

Some air traffic controllers at Prestwick, near Glasgow, have raised concerns about handling flights carrying bombs.

The result of an investigation into the Israeli-bound bomb cargo flights is expected to be made known on Monday.

As part of the introduction, the president said sorry there was a problem
Tony Blair's spokesman

The Civil Aviation Authority has been conducting an inquiry into the landings, which the Foreign Office believes may have broken rules.

Briefing reporters after the discussions, Mr Blair's official spokesman told reporters: "President Bush did apologise for the fact that proper procedures were not followed, but that was all.

"It was just one line. As part of the introduction, the president said sorry there was a problem.

"It was a gracious thing to do."

'Very uncomfortable'

BBC Scotland has learned that staff were unhappy about dealing with the US planes because flight plans appeared to mention that there were bombs on board.

Some of the 200 air traffic controllers said they were "very uncomfortable" handling certain aircraft.

Unions have considered an approach to the management as a result.

One air traffic controller, who did not want to be identified, said: "We usually don't know the cargo that is on board but for some reason this one's flight plan was brazenly advertising it was carrying bombs.

"People are very uncomfortable with that.

A plane landing at Prestwick Airport - generic
An inquiry will reveal whether the flights needed or had permissions

"We usually don't have time to worry about what's on board but there is a feeling that this is not good.

"We work with military aircraft all the time and people here are professional.

"They would never leave traffic that needs to be dealt with but there are people who feel uncomfortable working with certain aircraft."

The Foreign Office's concern is a matter of procedure because the cargo does not appear to have been notified as it should have been.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has raised concerns with the US Government.

Following Mrs Beckett's open display of displeasure over the flights issue, a White House spokesman said he was sure procedures were in order.

Immediate ceasefire

First Minister Jack McConnell is under pressure to prevent further arms shipments using Scottish soil.

His office said aviation and foreign policy were matters reserved to Westminster.

Backbenchers have urged Mr Blair to push for an immediate ceasefire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.

A senior Scottish Labour MP said the prime minister must stop defying public opinion over the crisis in Lebanon.

Mohammed Sarwar, who is chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster, said he was "really disappointed" in the government for refusing to call for a ceasefire.

The Glasgow Central MSP also said it is "totally unacceptable" that US planes used a Scottish airport while carrying bombs to Israel and said it must not happen again.


SEE ALSO
Blair set for White House talks
28 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Fury at airport bomb flights role
27 Jul 06 |  Glasgow and West
US rejects weapon flight concerns
27 Jul 06 |  UK Politics

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