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Bush wraps up UK visit

Mass antiwar protests in London

Bush, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs Bush before the start of a dinner in London Thursday.
Bush, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs Bush before the start of a dinner in London Thursday.

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President Bush on another attempt by terrorists 'to intimidate and demoralize.'
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Tony Blair vows 'no holding back' in 'confronting this menace.'
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George W. Bush
Tony Blair

LONDON, England (CNN) -- President George Bush welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to the residence of the U.S. ambassador for dinner Thursday evening, concluding his state visit to Britain.

A few hours earlier, antiwar demonstrators protesting Bush's trip to London toppled an effigy of him in Trafalgar Square, mocking the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops after they marched into Baghdad back in April.

"Our message is quite simply, 'Go home, Bush,'" said one speaker at the protest, which police said drew between 100,000 and 110,000 people.

Earlier Thursday, Bush's visit to Prime Minister Tony Blair's official residence, No. 10 Downing Street, took on a somber tone with the news that terrorist bombs had ripped through a British consulate and bank building in Istanbul, Turkey, killing at least 27 people, including Britain's consul general.

At a joint news conference, both leaders said the attacks demonstrated the need to remain resolute in standing up to terrorists. (Full story)

"Once again, we're reminded of the evil these terrorists pose to innocent people everywhere and to our way of life," Blair said. "Once again, we must affirm that in the face of this terrorism, there must be no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation in confronting this menace."

"The cruelty is part of their strategy," Bush said. "The terrorists hope to intimidate. They hope to demoralize. They particularly want to intimidate and demoralize the free nations. They're not going to succeed."

Bush brushed off the demonstrations that have dogged his visit, telling reporters, "It's a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views." He made a point of noting that people in Baghdad could not do the same under Saddam Hussein.

"I fully understand people don't agree with war. But I hope they agree with peace and freedom and liberty," he said. "The prime minister and I have a solemn duty to protect our people, and that's exactly what I intend to do as the president of the United States -- protect the people of my country."

Blair said he thinks it is "bizarre" that people are protesting U.S.-led efforts to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, given how those regimes brutalized their own people.

He said the "effect of us not doing this would be that the Taliban was still in Afghanistan and Saddam was still in charge of Iraq. And I think people have got to accept that this is the consequence of the position they're in."

A paper mache effigy of Bush is toppled in London's Trafalgar Square
A paper mache effigy of Bush is toppled in London's Trafalgar Square

Thursday's protest march to Trafalgar Square was largely peaceful, but police arrested 58 people, many on minor charges.

Some Americans in London participated in the demonstration, including Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran and antiwar activist whose life story was the basis of the movie "Born on the Fourth of July."

In an address to the crowd, Kovic told protesters that they "have the moral high ground."

"You are the ones who really care about Great Britain, and you are the ones who care about my country, the United States," he said. "Thank you, thank you."

Before visiting No. 10 Downing Street, Bush met privately with family members of British service members killed in Iraq.

"These brave men died for the security of this country and in the cause of human freedom," Bush said. "Our nations honor their sacrifice. I pray for the comfort of their families."

In addition to discussing a range of foreign policy issues, Bush and Blair also touched on two issues that have been a source of contention between their governments -- the U.S. detention of British subjects without trial as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and U.S. tariffs on imported steel designed to protect the beleaguered American steel industry.

Blair, who has been under pressure at home to get Bush to transfer custody of the British detainees, said the dispute "is not going to be resolved today, but it will be resolved at some point soon."

"I've already said in the House of Commons that it will be resolved in one of two ways -- either they will be tried by a military commission out there or, alternatively, they'll be brought back here," Blair said.

As for the steel tariffs, Bush said, "it's an issue that the prime minister has brought up not once, not twice, but three times.

"It's on his mind. It's also on my mind, and I'm reviewing the findings about the restructuring of our steel industry."

Underscoring the close personal relationship that has developed between the conservative president and the Labor prime minister, Bush will conclude his visit to Britain Friday by traveling to Sedgefield, an area in northern England that Blair represents in Parliament, for joint appearances with the prime minister.

The president will return to the White House Friday evening.

-- CNN's Melissa Gray in London contributed to this report.

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