ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—A frustrated President Bush used a four-letter expletive here on Monday to describe his frustration with violence in the Middle East.
At a luncheon for leaders of the so-called Group of Eight, Bush spoke frankly and profanely to British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the clash between Hezbollah and Israel, not knowing that a microphone at the table was turned on.
Munching on a roll, Bush told Blair, "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s--- and it's over."
Bush told Blair that he felt like telling United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to "get on the phone" with Syrian President Bashar Assad "and make something happen."
The president expressed reservations about Annan's approach.
"I don't like the sequence of it," Bush said. "His attitude is basically cease-fire and everything else happens."
Bush and Blair also discussed sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East. Her trip was announced later Monday.
"Obviously, if she goes out, she's got to succeed," Blair said to Bush, "whereas I can just go out and talk."
Bush also got personal, thanking Blair for giving him a sweater.
"I know you picked it out yourself," Bush said.
"Oh, absolutely," Blair replied.
Later, on Air Force One, White House press secretary Tony Snow said that when Bush found out that his dialogue with Blair had been public, "he rolled his eyes and laughed."
Snow also took pains to emphasize that Bush "likes Kofi Annan," saying, "We are supportive and grateful for the help that the U.N. is trying to provide."
Asked to comment on Bush's use of the barnyard epithet, Snow told his inquirer, "Not unless you've never used it."
"Damn," the trumped reporter replied, to laughter from his colleagues.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Need to map