Bush's Unscripted Comments at G-8
Monday, July 17, 2006; 5:04 PM
SPEAKERS: GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR
VASSILEVA: During a photo-opportunity session, an open microphone picked up a colorful exchange between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush.
Suzanne Malveaux explains what exactly happened.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): At the conclusion of the G-8 summit, it was a picture of unity. The leaders of the world's richest nations issuing a statement, seemingly in lockstep, on confronting the Middle East crisis.
But a rare behind-the-scenes moment captures the statement of raw diplomacy. During a lunch-in photo-op, with microphones set on the tables, the candid conversations of the world's most powerful leaders were being transmitted, unbeknownst to them.
Most notably between President Bush and his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Earlier in the day, Blair and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly rolled out a plan...
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Extremely concerned about the situation.
MALVEAUX: ... to send international forces to help end the cross-border attacks between Hezbollah and Israel.
Privately President Bush expresses frustration:
BUSH: What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically cease-fire and everything else happens.
BLAIR: I think the thing that is really difficult is you can't stop this unless you get this international presence agreed.
MALVEAUX: Publicly President Bush has condemned Syria and Iran for supporting Hezbollah's strikes against Israel. But privately he failed to convince the other G-8 leaders to make the same judgment in their group statement.
Mr. Bush urges the U.N. to do more, specifically calling for Annan to reach out to Syria's leaders Bashar Al-Assad in fairly explicit terms.
BUSH: See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.
BLAIR: Cause I think this is all part of the same thing. What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if he gets a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he's done it. That's what this whole thin's about. It's the same with Iran.
BUSH: I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen.
MALVEAUX: At this point, Blair realizes their conversation is being picked up and turns off the microphone.
But Blair is asked about their candid talks, including Mr. Bush's cursing, at a press conference later on.
Not missing a beat, Blair is back on message.
BLAIR: While the president was saying what I'm saying, is that everybody around the table, should use his influence on Syria to try to get this to stop.
MALVEAUX: A White House spokesman says while President Bush's private comments may be more blunt, that they are consistent with what he has said publicly in calling for peace in the Middle East.
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