Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bush returns to US after UK visit

George Bush has flown back to the US after his last European tour as president [BBC]. On his last stop in Northern Ireland he spoke to members of the Irish assembly including Sinn Fein representative Martin McGuinness, once considered a terrorist and member of the IRA. But there were broad smiles as Bush stepped out for an impromptu statement to waiting reporters. President Bush said they had talked about efforts made towards devolution and investment in the country. “Northern Ireland is a success story, but there is obviously a lot more work to be done” he said. But the president was generally upbeat saying, "This is a good place for investment. Ultimately investment will help NI reach its full potential". Peter_Robinson and Martin McGuinness also thanked President Bush and the United States for helping to promote investment in Northern Ireland. Martin McGuinness said the Economic Investment Conference would help increase investment and with it reduce unemployment within Northern Ireland.

Before the president arrived in Northern Ireland he had a long discussion with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street. In a press conference following that meeting at the Foreign Office, Gordon Brown spoke once again of the “shared values” that existed between the two countries, referring to it as what Churchill called the “joint inheritance of an English speaking world”. He went on to thank George W Bush as being a true friend of Britain and for the United States’ partnership in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also thanked President Bush and the United States for the “huge role” they had played in the Northern Ireland peace process. Iran’s nuclear ambitions had also been one of the main topics of conversation during talks between the two leaders. But the issue of promoting democracy was also high on the agenda. They talked at length about the continuing problems in Zimbabwe and also of Myanmar, referred to by its colonial name Burma by the Prime Minister. But while no action was suggested over solving problems in Zimbabwe and Myanmar, Gordon Brown said he would send more troops to Afghanistan to help the fight against the Taleban. With regards Iran, the Prime Minister spoke of increasing the pressure on the country including the freezing of assets and imposing gas and fuel sanctions [BBC].

President Bush was far more relaxed in his address to the assembled media. After the preamble of gratuities and thanks, George Bush went on to thank Gordon Brown’s tough policy on terrorism. He insisted the threat had not gone and appreciated the ongoing focus by the British PM. The continuing fight in Afghanistan and Iraq was “necessary for the sake of peace and our security” the President said. He went on to the subject of HIV and malaria in Africa and criticised other G8 member states for not fulfilling their commitments. On the subject of climate change, George Bush once again called on China and India to increase their efforts to curb output of greenhouse gases. But back home the supposed effects of climate change were being strongly felt in many parts of the US where flooding and heavy rainfall has devastated many areas.
[BBC / CNN]. And the flooding is also affecting world markets as corn crops are destroyed. Not only do the crops provide the food industry, but there is now an increased reliance on maize for bio fuels and for animal feed. The destruction of millions of acres of corn has put the price up by more than 90% over the year. The US supplies more than 54% of the world’s maize and the losses will only add to the food crisis already developing world wide [BBC].

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