Opponents of the war in Iraq said they would disrupt a visit by President George Bush to Britain after his trip was announced yesterday. President Bush and his wife Laura will stay at Buckingham Palace from 19-21 November after an invitation by the Queen.
Downing Street said the President's state visit, which has been mooted for several months, was an "important opportunity to deepen our close relationship with a close international partner''. Tony Blair and President Bush are expected to review the progress of reconstruction in Iraq. They last met in July when the Prime Minister addressed both Houses of Congress in Washington.
Security will be tight for the President's visit. Andrew Murray, chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, which organised mass protests before the invasion of Iraq, said: "Millions of Britons who opposed the war which George Bush dragged us into will be horrified at this news and believe that the invitation should be rescinded immediately. If he does visit Britain, he will be met by demonstrations and protests every day.''
The coalition is expecting tens of thousands of people to join a demonstration in London on Saturday to demand that Britain and the US end their "occupation" of Iraq.
It is the first time in the Queen's reign that a visit by a US President has been called a state visit. But it is not expected to be markedly different from the "official visit'' by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, when he and his wife Nancy stayed at Windsor Castle.
The President and his wife were lunch guests at Buckingham Palace in July 2001. In April this year, President Bush met Mr Blair in Northern Ireland.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have made three state visits to the US, the last in May 1991 during the presidency of Mr Bush's father.Reuse content