Bush caught swearing
LONDON: It was Tony and George Unplugged at the G8 summit on Monday. Unaware that a microphone was on and the conversation was being picked up on close-circuit TV and a powerful internal mike, Bush suggested to Blair a solution to end the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
"See,"said Bush, "the irony is what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s***, and it's over". He made the remark as leaders at the G8 summit in St Petersburg were sitting down to lunch.
Blair's suggestion that he play change-maker and touchstone for the US elicited amusement and scorn with commentators describing the British prime minister as the typical "well-behaved poodle"to its American master.
Former US diplomat in the Clinton administration, James Rubin, told British television audiences that the exchange "tells us a lot about the relationship between the two men, about the US-UK special relationship and the two men's views on (West Asia)".
Their discussions about Syrian president Bashir al-Assad also aroused comment. Some years ago, Blair paid a controversial, ultimately humiliating, visit to Damascus despite Assad junior's UK links — notably his medical training in London and his marriage to a London-born-and-bred Syrian girl.
But on Monday, in a conversation that significantly failed to mention the developing world's concerns about trade disparities, India's concerns about terrorism and any possibility the Iraq conflict may not be resolved to satisfaction, Bush and Blair discussed Assad as jealous of their likely success in the region. Blair said Assad appeared to resent "if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way..."
"Yeah, yeah,"said Bush of Assad, "he is sweet."
What the microphone inadvertently left on provided the world was also rare peek into how leaders converse at global summits which are billed as big-ticket events meant to yield solutions to the world's problems.