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[casi] dance my puppets, dance

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      Mar 8 2003

      By Paul Gilfeather

      GEORGE Bush pulled out of a speech to the European Parliament when MEPs wouldn't guarantee a 
standing ovation.

      Senior White House officials said the President would only go to Strasbourg to talk about 
Iraq if he had a stage-managed welcome.

      A source close to negotiations said last night: "President Bush agreed to a speech but 
insisted he get a standing ovation like at the State of the Union address.

      "His people also insisted there were no protests, or heckling.

      "I believe it would be a crucial speech for Mr Bush to make in light of the opposition here 
to war. But unless he only gets adulation and praise, then it will never happen."

      Mr Bush's every appearance in the US is stage-managed, with audiences full of supporters.

      It was hoped he would speak after he welcomed Warsaw pact nations to Nato in Prague last 
November. But his refusal to speak to EU leaders face-to-face is seen as a key factor in the split 
between the US-UK coalition and Europe.

      The source added: "Relations between the EU and the US are worsening fast - this won't help."

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