August 5th, 2008
09:07 AM ET
6 years ago

Protesters greet Bush in South Korean capital

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President Bush walks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yoo Myung-Hwan.
President Bush walks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yoo Myung-Hwan.

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) - Thousands of protesters packed the streets of the South Korean capital Tuesday as President Bush arrived for the start of his Asian tour.

While some of the demonstrations were peaceful, violence erupted at other protest sites. In one instance, riot police fired a water cannon to keep the crowds at bay.

Police said they detained about 80 protesters. They estimated about 2,700 people were participating in the protests, which included a candlelight march and a sit-in. But the organizers said some 10,000 were taking part in the demonstrations.

Bush's week long trip to the region is his ninth visit as president. His stop in Seoul comes just a few months after violent street protests erupted over worries about the safety of U.S. beef imports.

While those tensions seem to have eased, the United States' nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea is also a concern.

Michael Green, a former Bush adviser on Asian affairs, and now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Seoul's proximity to North Korea contributes to an ongoing unease.

"The North Koreans have 11,000 artillery tubes and rockets aimed at the South Korean capital, so any little thing that we do with North Korea makes the South Koreans very jittery," Green said.

He added, "On the other hand, the U.S. has to worry a great deal about where terrorists might get nuclear weapons or nuclear material."

After South Korea, the president will go to Thailand for what's being billed as a major Asia policy speech.

He's expected to denounce the military regime in neighboring Myanmar –also known as Burma - for its human rights abuses. First lady Laura Bush has fervently taken up the cause, and last May sharply criticized the regime for its response to a May cyclone that killed tens of thousands of people.

"The more I've seen, the more critical I see the need is ... for the world to pay attention to the people of Burma, and for the world to put pressure on the military regime," Mrs. Bush told reporters in a historic news conference in the White House briefing room - the first ever by a first lady.

President Bush will continue his Asia tour with a visit to Beijing to attend the 2008 Olympics, a decision critics have blasted, saying his presence gives China a pass on its poor record on human rights and religious freedom.

Last week, the president again defended his decision in an interview with China's state-run television network. "I think it's best for U.S.-China's relations that I go. I know it's important for me to send a clear signal to the Chinese people that we respect them," he said.

Bush plans to attend a church service in Beijing to deliver what is sure to be a carefully crafted message.

"He will have to say something public which is always tricky, how much he spotlights these issues," Green said. "And I think he will not (do it) in an adversarial way."

Last week, the president welcomed five Chinese dissidents to the White House, telling them he would carry a "message of freedom" to Beijing. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Chinese leaders, who accused the president of interfering with China's internal affairs.


Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Weepy

    Maybe there were no protestors when Obama was in foreign capitols, because he has no track record. He hasn't done anything YET, one way or another. Who is he? Just a person that a certain segment of the world's population has latched on to because he says things in a persuasive manner. I remember the rival preachers coming to my small hometown, who did the very same thing, but that did not make them presidential material!

    August 5, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. geecee827

    Let's not hear another word about "not getting attacked since 9/11" since as everyone knows, Bush/Cheny sent our soldiers over to Iraq and made it much easier for Al Queda to kill Americans – over 4,100 of them – more than were killed on 9/11 to be sure. Al Queda didn't have to come here anymore to kill Americans – Bush/Cheney sent their targets to them! What a corrupt, lying, deceitful administration they are, and we Americans are paying the bill for the rest of our lives. Don't complain about the high cost of fuel, food, health care, education, consumer goods and everything else, since we are going to spend upwards to a Trillion Dollars on this War – and to what avail? Someone, please explain just how this Iraq War has helped America. We're going bankrupt, morally and fiscally, from this War and Bush and Cheney (former CEO of Halliburton) and their oil buddies made millions.

    August 5, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Weepy

    Maybe there were no protestors when Obama was in foreign capitols, because he has no track record. He hasn't done anything YET, one way or another. Who is he? Just a person that a certain segment of the world's population has latched on to because he says things in a persuasive manner. I remember the revival preachers coming to my small hometown, who did the very same thing, but that did not make them presidential material!

    August 5, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. McGaffe Sucks

    McGaffe and Bush will be treated with the same disdain all over the world.

    Que positive music.

    We need to elect Obama

    We've just came through 8 years where president bush was saying lets give big breaks to oil companies.Results, hire gas prices. McGaffe wants to continue Bush love affair with oil.

    August 5, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Gerry in Virginia

    Hey Frank you have it all wrong. I don't know how you bush huggers can get your thinking so screwed up... Mr. Obama talked about conversation with North Korea long before W decided that it would be a good thing to do. Lets give credit where credit is due... Mr. Obama talked about conversation with Iran long before W decided that was a good thing to do.. As far as Bush going to the olympics, well we've paid for so much for this slob and his cohorts, that a little trip to the olympics is just one more thing he can charge to us. I'm suprised Cheney, McBush and a whole herd of others in that bunch aren't going along on the trip with him at our expense of course.... I think we should take the wings off of AF one and make him stay home the rest of his term...

    August 5, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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