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Anti-War Protests Await Bush in Sydney

After a surprise trip to Iraq, President Bush is visiting Australia for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. The conflict in the Persian Gulf will be a key theme of the president's visit to the APEC meeting in Sydney, where he is expected to face noisy and potentially violent anti-war protests. Phil Mercer reports from Sydney that anti-Bush sentiment is rising.

About 200 anti-war activists gathered in central Sydney to voice their opposition to President Bush's policy in Iraq.

Thousands more protesters are expected to take part in a large rally in Australia's biggest city on Saturday when APEC leaders meet.

Among those taking to the streets will be a former U.S. marine and veteran of the Iraq war.

Matt Howard, who served two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf, has come to Sydney to deliver an anti-war message to President Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"Four-and-a-half years later after our opening shock and awe Bush's lies are known throughout the world and yet he continues to act with impunity," said Howard. "Four-and-a-half years later the Bush regime along with his sycophant coalition have unleashed a hell upon the country of Iraq that only those that have been there can truly understand."

The conflict is likely to dominate this week's APEC summit along with climate change and regional security.

On his way to Sydney President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq.

Australia has deployed about 1,500 military personnel to Iraq and conservative Prime Minister Howard has no plans to bring them home just yet.

President Bush will also have talks with Australia's opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, who has promised to pull the troops out if he wins an election due later this year.

"Mr. Bush and Mr. Howard have their views on Iraq. We have a different view on Iraq," said Rudd. "Our policy is that we need a negotiated, phased withdrawal of Australian combat forces from Iraq, and that is what we intended to proceed doing."

A new opinion poll has predicted a landslide win for Labor, which would radically change Australia's policy in the Middle East although Kevin Rudd does support the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Sydney is in the middle of Australia's most intense security operation.

Parts of the city have been locked down against possible terror attacks and violent demonstrations during President Bush's visit and the weekend summit of Asia Pacific leaders.

APEC's members include China, Japan, Indonesia and a host of smaller economies from Asia and South America as well as New Zealand.