U.S. President George W. Bush has completed his final European tour of his presidency. He met with European leaders at a summit in Slovenia, and then continued to Germany, Italy, France and Britain. In London, Mr. Bush had tea with Queen Elizabeth and talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan figured prominently throughout the visit, as did his message that the European-American partnership is key. Mandy Clark reports from London on Mr. Bush's farewell European tour and the reaction to it.
The President's whirlwind trip took him to the German countryside, to Rome, Paris and London. It was partly a goodbye visit with old friends - like Sylvio Berlusconi, back as Italy's prime minister. But it was also a chance to see newer allies, like French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Although security was out in force, protesters were fewer in number than expected.
In Britain, though, some 2,000 demonstrators gathered to greet Mr. Bush on his arrival.
The U.S. president is still deeply unpopular in Europe, mostly because of the Iraq war.
Political analyst, Vanessa Rossi at London's Chatham House research center, says Europe will probably not miss the U.S. president's political style.
"I think, perhaps unfortunately for President Bush, he has laid himself open to more ridicule than he possibly could have imagined," Rossi said. “Particularly the way the American foreign policy abroad has been viewed. I think almost inevitably, many people, particularly in the continent of Europe, are perhaps relieved to see the end of this particular era and hopefully could look forward to changes in the style of American foreign policy in the future. "
President Bush drew tough headlines in some European newspapers. The papers highlighted the divisions between Europe and the United States. Some made fun of the president for his comments at different stops. Like in France, where he told President Sarkozy that his new wife, Carla Bruni, a former model, is smart and he understood why Mr.Sarkozy wanted to marry her.
Michael Cox, international relations analyst at the London School of Economics, has a more serious critique. He says President Bush's message on the importance of the transatlantic partnership is well accepted in Europe. But his policies are not.
"The problem frankly is this president. His clear
rejection of the Kyoto protocol which was so important to most Europeans and
the European Union, the Iraq war that not only divided across the Atlantic but
it divided Europeans inside the European continent, and the general image," Cox said. "It
is not a secret to suggest that this is the least popular president in Europe
for a very long time."
At a joint news conference, Prime Minister Brown and President Bush presented a united front. They were tough on Iran's nuclear program and resolute on fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The president leaves office in January. He may be on this way out, but he said he is
not done yet. He said he can still
achieve a lot in the time left. What that will be is not clear yet.