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.
Why would socialists protest a socialist? No.., indeed they cheered him. Bush and McCain are the ones standing in the way of destroying America as we know it..
Don't be an idiot. You have the right to free speech, true enough. You don't have the right to be heard.
I'm Korean, Korean protest way too much! I don't like Bush either and I KNOW OBAMA is leaps and bounds a much smarter and better candidate than McCain or Bush. But Koreans proest about EVERYTHING. It's like democracy on steroids.
If you like Bush, you'll Love McCain. He's not as smart as Bush...and much more bad tempered. He may be able to foul up the country even more than Bush has. I'm sure he'll try his best. I have to agree with John Kerry, McCain would be a dangerous choice for President at this time...especially when we have a chance to choose Obama, who we so desparately need to move this country in the right direction.
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Barack goes overseas and is greeted by thousands of supporters!
Bush goes overseas and is greeted by thousands of protesters!
If this isn't clear that this country needs an image makeover, I don't know what is.
Frank - Bush took seven years to get a deal with North Korea because, in his arrogance, he jettisoned all the progress the Clinton administration made toward that goal in the nineties. Bush is an idiot and only another idiot would say he should be receiving a "hero's welcome."
As long as it's not Charles and George Stuffonopulous. Those idiots will be asking about Paris Hilton and Brittney.
THE MOST RESPECTED US PRESIDENT.......WHAT A LOSER.....
HATED BY THE WORLD
where are the 200,000 Koreans excited about our sitting president's visit? No way GWB goes to Korea and gets greated by protesters!!!!!!
Obama a presidential candidate only gets a warm welcome in Germany what's wrong with this picture !!!!!
Herman in LA..
Don't feel bad, they are doing the same thing to me.Always saying
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Although, we have suffered these last 8 years and things have been horrible for us all. There is one thing no American should want to happen and that is a sitting president be harmed on foreign land.
Protesters are good, no matter where they are, because of the freedom of expression and speech.
But people of America, we need to do what is necessary for us to do here in the United States. So pray for the safety of bushe to get back home safely and then we the people of the United States can deal with him.
bush/cheney,...what total failures as human beings. who voted for these people? you made a huge mistake.
John McCain is a danger to the entire world – Mr "I know how to win wars" will have to start a few more so he can prove his point. He's worse than Bush – he got BEATEN by Bush in 2000.
Vote NO to more wars. Vote NO to McWarmonger !!!!!
Hey John, what planet are you living?
CNN, you are really really biased by not reporting the truth. There were only 10,000 protesters who protested about beef import from US to Korea. There is nothing to do with anything else.
Not only the policy is good to improve our economy by exporting beef to other countries, but also there were more than 50,000 Korean supporters did the counter demo against the 10,000 protesters. The pro-US demo even more nice by not doing anarchism, instead they prayed for US and Korea.
How much more you all the Bush haters will deceive the public? Remember CNN, in this Internet era, you are not the only news provider. There are thousands of blog web sites that people can share their opinions.
The more you deceive there more you will loose your credibility. And I am sure people all over the world already know the current quality of US media, especially CNN, NBC and CBS. Very biased and unprofessional.
JOHN either you are on CRACK or you are on BUSH'S payroll, are you CRAZY what has he done in your eyes that makes him so wonderful. He is the worst President that the United States has ever had and you sitting up here giving him some props for some strange reason. I tell you what call your doctor because your meds are not strong enough, point blank.
This wouldn't happen to Obama in any country he chooses to visit. He is tactful, Presidential, intuitive and thoughtful. He has the ability to see the route of any problem while many of us just see the results of that or one problem at a time.
Could you imagine the "straight talk express" rolling into any other country and making sense or impressing people?
That's why most of his speeches are given in front of the military–they have to like it.
Please keep him. That's all I have to say.
Tick tock already....
Come on November.
I personally think that we're gonna be screwed no matter who we vote into office....Bush has caused so many problems that I will be surprised if we can recover in the next 4 to 8 years.
Take your meds, you sound like one of "The Bitter People" Obama was talking about. So much hate with the peace loving liberals, I dont get it.
Anyway I am happy I make over 250K a year and McCain will be president. So go on and live your miserable broke life and wait another 4 years for your free hand outs. Also, I love paying $4 a gallon of gas keeps the broke liberals off the road.
200,000 plus with waving American flags VS protesters, which one do you want? I'll take the 200,000 plus and the McShame want to make fun of Sen.Obama..Please who do he think he is, I'm willn't vote for a 3rd Bush TERM.
Change we can believe in!