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Bush, Blair caught out -

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Bush, Blair caught out

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

TONY JONES: The US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been caught out
speaking frankly about the Middle East in front of microphones they thought were switched off. The
President was recorded swearing, saying that the crisis would end as soon as Hezbollah stopped its
rocket attacks against Israel, while an offer by Tony Blair to travel to the Middle East as a peace
broker was dismissed by the US leader. This candid exchange has led to Mr Blair being ridiculed in
the British press as a weak and subservient ally of President Bush. Stephen McDonell reports.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: President Bush greeted his British counterpart: "Yo, Blair." The two talked
about "this trade thingy" and then got onto the situation in the Middle East. Prime Minister Blair
offered to go to the Middle East as a peacemaker, only to be dismissed by President Bush.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We can't stop this, unless you get this international business
agreed.

GEORGE W BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Yeah.

TONY BLAIR: Now I don't know what you guys have talked about is real but, as I say, I am perfectly
happy to try to see what the ... lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because
otherwise this will spiral.

GEORGE W BUSH: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon.

TONY BLAIR: Right well that's all that matters. But, but if you ... You see it'll take some time to
get that together.

GEORGE W BUSH: Yeah, yeah...

TONY BLAIR: But at least it gives people...

GEORGE W BUSH: It's a process, I agree.

TONY BLAIR: At which you and, and...

GEORGE W BUSH: I told her [about] your offer too.

TONY BLAIR: Well it's only if it's, I mean, you know ... If she's got a ... or if she needs the
groundwork prepared, as it were, because, obviously, if she goes out she's got to succeed, as it
were, whereas I can go out and just talk.

GEORGE W BUSH: See, the irony is what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop
doing this shit and it's over.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: And President Bush had some unflattering words about UN secretary-general Kofi
Annan and Syrian President Assad, who's seen as a backer of Hezbollah.

GEORGE W BUSH: What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically
ceasefire and everything else happens. I felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone to Assad and
make something happen.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: A ceasefire was the priority of Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora when he
spoke to the European Union. But the EU's foreign policy chief didn't seem too optimistic that this
was about to happen.

REPORTER: Why is no one talking about an immediate ceasefire at this stage? Is it just unfeasible
to call for one?

JAVIER SOLANA, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Well, I think, at this point in time that is something
everybody would like to have - at least I would like to have - but I think we are a little bit far
still from that situation. We have to take other steps first.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Meanwhile, a UN team was sent to the Middle East to seek out a ceasefire.

TARIA LARSEN, UN POLITICAL ADVISER: The UN delegation centred some specific and concrete ideas on
how to resolve the current crisis and to reach an end of hostilities.

STEPHEN MCDONNELL: Those ideas were not fully explained and no breakthrough was made. Stephen
McDonell, Lateline.