Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bush at the summit: 4 minutes of candor - Americas - International Herald Tribune

Bush at the summit: 4 minutes of candor - Americas - International Herald Tribune: "Bush at the summit: 4 minutes of candor
By Jim Rutenberg The New York Times

Published: July 18, 2006


STRELNA, Russia In the endless quest for details on how business is done among world leaders - the small talk, the byplay and the drama - nothing does the job like a stealthy tape recorder.

And so it came to pass Monday that the world got perhaps the most acute look at how the U.S. president does business with his international counterparts - Tony Blair of Britain and Hu Jintao of China - when a Russian microphone recorded him candidly discussing the Middle East, his distaste for long speeches and his preference for Diet Coke.

George W. Bush has been caught unaware before by open microphones and rolling cameras: Making a disparaging remark about a reporter during the 2000 campaign and making funny faces into a camera just before announcing the invasion of Iraq.

But the tape that was gifted to the news media Monday by the Russian service recording the Group of 8 summit meeting for participants and reporters appears to be the most extensive, catching in four minutes a presidential style mixing small talk and hard diplomacy - including the use of a scatological term.

And it also makes clear what many have assumed: Events like the G-8 summit meeting in the 1,000-room Konstantinovksy Palace in this St. Petersburg suburb eventually become a little much for him.

The conversation comes during the closing lunch of the talks, in the Blue Hall of the palace originally built by Peter the Great.

In a segment in which Bush is apparently speaking to an aide about upcoming remarks, Bush says, 'I'm just going to make it up, right here. I'm not going to talk too damn long like the rest of them.'"

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