Rome: It was a historic moment: George W. Bush was the first president of the
U.S. to participate in burying a Pope - despite his controversy with the Pontiff
over the Iraq War. Loud booing was heard, when on a large television monitor carried
a close-up of the President and Mrs. Bush.
George W. Bush had also brought a high-ranking delegation to Rome, which included
his father, George [H.W.] Bush, his predecessor, Bill Clinton, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice. At St. Peter's Square, Bush sat in the second row of
honored guests. The seats were arranged in alphabetical order, after the French
names for each nation. Beside Bush sat French President Jacques Chirac. About
40 members of the U.S. Congress were also in attendance. The huge crowd gathered
in the Square reacted with booing and catcalls when a large television monitor
carried a close-up of the President and Mrs. Bush.
The U.S. president took the opportunity while in Rome to meet with Italian
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Bush again expressed his regret over the death
of Nicola Calipari, the secret service officer. Calipari died one month ago,
when U.S. Troops bombarded his car, as he accompanied released Italian hostage
Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad Airport. The incident caused a substantial disruption
in relations between Italy and the United States.
Bush also met in Rome with American cardinals, who will participate in the
election of a new Pope, beginning on April 18. After the funeral, the U.S. president
journeyed back to Texas.
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