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Bush Takes Ill While At Summit
Did Bush Fall Off The Wagon & Illness A Cover for Hangover?

London Times | June 8, 2007

President Bush has returned for the closing ceremonies of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm after being taken ill with a stomach complaint and being forced to skip the morning working session.

The US President realised that he was "very much under the weather" as he got up and dressed this morning, his aides said.

He pressed ahead with an hour-long discussion with Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French President, their first bilateral talks since the French leader was elected last month.

As a precaution, however, the meeting was held in Mr Bush's private room, and the US President then had a lie down for the rest of the morning.

"President Bush is slightly indisposed this morning and will rejoin the working meeting as soon as he can," Mr Sarkozy said, as he emerged alone from the US President’s suite in the Orangerie, a luxury hotel in the Baltic Sea resort.

"I’m not sure if it’s a stomach virus yet or something like that," Dan Bartlett, an aide to the president, told reporters. "He’s just not feeling well in his stomach."

He added that Mr Bush’s doctor, Dr Richard Tubb, was monitoring the president’s health.

The White House said Mr Bush had sent his regrets to the other summit leaders and that the US envoy to the G8, Dave McCormack, had stood in for the President at the meetings.

The US leader returned to the summit to appear in the final ’family’ photo and attend its final lunch. He was to stick to his programme of visiting Poland briefly later in the day before going on to Italy.

"We are back on schedule," a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, told reporters. "The President had a good rest this morning. He’s feeling better, not 100 per cent, but he feels good enough to rejoin the meeting."

Indigestion or a mild case of food poisoning are suspected as the cause of Mr Bush's indisposition at the summit, where 60 chefs are on stand by to cook for the eight heads of state, their partners and entourages.

The hotel complex where the conference is being held has its own herds of lamb and goat, and prides itself on fresh, locally grown produce.

Security in the kitchens is tight, and the secret service is monitoring them. Summit observers have noted that the precautions taken around Mr Bush are especially stringent - in one incident, a German police officer was prevented by White House staff from so much as touching the door handle of the President's Lincoln limousine.

Fish - on the menu at Wednesday night's dinner at the start of the summit - is a speciality at the seaside resort. At lunch on Wednesday Mr Bush shared a meal of asparagus and veal schnitzel with his host, Angela Merkel.

Yesterday afternoon Mr Bush was photographed sipping something that resembled beer, while sitting around a picnic table in a small group with Ms Merkel, but as the President has not drunk alcohol for more than 20 years it is unlikely that it was anything stronger than a fizzy drink.

At 7.30pm last night all eight heads of state at the summit attended a working dinner, where the topic for discussion was the less than digestible issue of how to lend new impetus to the Doha development round. The menu at the dinner has not as yet been made public.

Afterwards the leaders were invited to enjoy a digestif, or post-dinner drink, and to chat on a one-to-one basis, although the 9.30pm time slot was past Mr Bush's usual bedtime. The US President is an early riser.

Mr Bush has had an unfortunate record for becoming indisposed while in public office. In January 2002, he grazed his cheek after choking on a pretzel and fainting while watching television.

In June 2003 he fell off his Segway scooter at his family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and in May 2004 he fell off his mountain bike, grazing his knees, hand, chin and nose.

In another bit of summit misfortune, in July 2005 Mr Bush crashed into a police officer while riding his bike around the grounds at the Gleneagles hotel while attending the G8 summit in Britain. The US President scraped his hands and arms, and the police officer was hospitalised with an ankle injury.

Mr Bartlett joked today that Mr Bush did not want to "follow in the footsteps of his father", former president George Bush, who endured public embarrassment in January 1992 when he fell ill at a state banquet during a summit in Tokyo, vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister and then fainted. The incident was blamed on flu.

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