WORLD / Europe

Yo Bush! Blair mocked as US poodle
Updated: 2006-07-18 22:33

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was roundly mocked as a US poodle on Tuesday after an off-the-cuff chat with President George W. Bush was accidentally broadcast.

Bush and Blair enjoyed a gossip over lunch at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg on Monday, unaware that a microphone in front of them was switched on and their words would be relayed around the world.

US President George W. Bush (L) speaks privately to British Prime Minister Tony Blair during lunch at the Group of Eight (G8) summit in St. Petersburg July 17, 2006. [Reuters]

Breaking with diplomatic formalities, Bush hailed Blair, his closest European ally, with the words "Yo, Blair." His solution to the Middle East crisis was that Syria should press Hizbollah to "stop doing this shit."

The British media pored over the text of the conversation, saying it cast Blair in a subservient role and showed the unequal nature of Britain's much-vaunted "special relationship" with the United States.

"Yo, Bush! Start treating our prime minister with respect," the popular tabloid Daily Mirror said, joining others in seeing the US president's greeting as disrespectful.

The broadcast chat "reinforces the damaging public image of Blair as the US president's poodle," it said.

But most damaging to Blair was what commentators saw as his plea -- rebuffed by Bush -- to be allowed to visit the Middle East to try to stop fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas.

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