Friday, June 8, 2007

Bush, at G-8 summit, catches 'some sort of bug'

But talks continue, and the nations agree on a $60-billion aid package to fight disease in Africa.

By James Gerstenzang (LA Times)

ROSTOCK, Germany -- President Bush returned to the Group of Eight summit this morning after missing the group photo and the final morning session because of what the White House called "some sort of bug."

"After having an opportunity to rest, he feels rejuvenated," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett, who said the illness was "probably more viral in nature and highly unlikely to be anything related to food or anything he ate."

During the morning session, the leading industrial nations discussed Africa, agreeing on a $60-billion package to fight disease there. Bush also missed a meeting with heads of state from other developing nations such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

During the summit, the global leaders agreed to address climate change, and to push for new trade talks in Doha, Qatar. They also called on Sudan to stop the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. And during a bilateral meeting with Bush, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin made a surprise offer to join with the United States and some of its European allies in operating a missile shield to thwart threats from terrorist nations.

Bush also met with the new French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, in Bush's private quarters at the hotel where the leaders of the major industrialized nations have been meeting since Monday in the resort town of Heiligendamm on Germany's Baltic coast. The two discussed U.S.-French relations, the Middle East, the crisis in Lebanon and Iraq, among other topics, Bartlett said.

Bush's White House physician, Brig. Gen. Richard J. Tubb, was with the president.

"He's not 100%, but he felt well enough to return to the talks," Bartlett said.

Referring to the time when his father, President George H.W. Bush, became ill during an official dinner in Japan in 1992, Bartlett said, "I guess he didn't want to follow in the footsteps of his father in Asia."

Bush set out on the trip Monday, flying that day to Prague in Czech Republic. On Tuesday evening, he headed to Germany, and on Wednesday he managed to go for a bike ride. He regularly exercises on a mountain bike at home and on the road.

Bartlett said Bush had gotten dressed this morning, but about half an hour before his meeting with Sarkozy, which was scheduled to take place elsewhere in the hotel, he decided to "dial it back a bit."

Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Bush also taped the weekly radio address that he delivers each Saturday. It is regularly recorded on Friday.

His place at the summit was taken by David McCormick, a White House aide who was the top U.S. official making preparations for the meeting.

As the president returned to summit activities, Bartlett said, "He's not 100% but he felt well enough to return to the talks and looks forward to completing the session currently underway."

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