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Iraq expected to be focus of Bush's U.K. visit

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush arrives in England, meets with British PM Gordon Brown, Queen Elizabeth II
  • Bush expected to ask Brown not to announce withdrawal date for troops in Iraq
  • Anti-war groups were expected to protest Bush's visit
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- President Bush arrived Sunday in London to discuss the war in Iraq and other issues with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

With just seven months left in office, Bush is on a farewell tour of Europe that has already taken him to Slovenia, Germany, Italy and France.

According to the Observer newspaper, Bush is expected to urge Brown not to announce a timetable for a British pullout from Iraq. According to The Associated Press, the British Broadcasting Corp. has previously reported Britain could set a date for the withdrawal of its soldiers from Iraq within months. The military has called the report "pure speculation."

Bush has a "good" relationship with Brown, but Brown is obviously "a different personality" than his predecessor Tony Blair, White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters en route to London from Paris. Watch the queen show the Bushes around Windsor Castle Video

Other topics for discussion will include Iran, the Middle East, climate change and trade, Hadley said.

On Saturday, Bush said he was confident the United States can reach a long-term security agreement with Iraq, one that will not establish permanent U.S. bases there.

"We're going to work hard to accommodate their desires," he said. "It's their country. And at the same time, we believe that a strategic relationship with Iraq is important. It's important for Iraq, it's important for the United States, and it's important for the region.

"Whatever we agree to, it will not commit future presidents to troop levels, nor will it establish permanent bases," Bush said.

Anti-war campaigners planned protests during the president's visit. In 2003, large crowds demonstrated against Bush for three days during his trip.

The president will meet Monday morning with Blair, who was a chief ally of Bush, and supported the Iraq war.

Blair is now a special envoy to the Mideast Quartet -- made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- which seeks a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Bush and Blair are expected to discuss the president's attempt to push through an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of the year.

When Brown took over from Blair last year, he made it clear that he would be a new kind of leader, but he has also said that his country's strong ties with the United States will not falter.

The president had Sunday afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth during a visit with first lady Laura Bush to Windsor Castle, and the Bushes later had a social visit with Brown at 10 Downing Street.

Bush's schedule also includes a visit to Northern Ireland.

Bush met Saturday with French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Bush said the two leaders had a "meaningful, good discussion" that focused on Iran.


"We both have a mutual desire to prevent the Iranians from gaining the knowledge so that they can build a weapon," Bush said.

On Friday, Bush urged Europeans to stand firm with the United States as it seeks to transform the Middle East. Bush compared that Middle Eastern transition to the Marshall Plan, the massive U.S. program to rebuild Europe after World War II, which was signed into U.S. law 60 years ago this year.

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