Saakashvili Says Bush is ‘Surprised’ by Georgian Welcome

The Georgian and U.S. Presidents, accompanied by 
their wives, watching as dancers perform
dozens of routines.

After an extraordinary welcome by the Georgian national dance troupe in the old part of Tbilisi on Monday, which incited visiting U.S. President George W. Bush to clap his hands and shake his hips, the U.S. President is now preparing for the official part of his visit to Georgia, which starts on May 10.

President Bush and Mrs. Bush, accompanied by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and his wife Sandra Roelofs, headed towards the historic part of the Georgian capital city shortly after the U.S. President’s arrival. Cameras captured the surprised face of President Bush looking from his limo as dozens of dancers started to perform numerous routines upon the arrival of the presidential motorcade in the Old Tbilisi.

President Bush spent 40 minutes at the outdoor performance, twice the amount of time that was envisaged by the official schedule. After spending time at the performance, clapping and shaking his hips, President Bush unexpectedly rushed on stage for a hand-shake with the Georgian dancers and musicians, which was followed by a group photo with them.

Later President Saakashvili hosted President Bush at an official dinner in a restaurant located in the same district of Old Tbilisi. After the dinner, Bush seemed even more enthusiastic. “The food is really good,” he said.

The U.S. President and Mrs. Bush greet
as thier plane lands in Tbilisi airport.
Late on May 9 Rustavi 2 television broadcasted comments made by President Saakashvili, who was speaking about his impressions of the first hours of Bush’s visit.

“He [George W. Bush] is really very surprised,” Saakashvili said. “This visit is an unprecedented sign of [U.S.] support,” he added.

The Georgian President also said that it was surprising that hundreds of people cheered visiting U.S. President on his way from the airport to the city center, despite bad weather.

“I hope many people will gather on Freedom Square tomorrow as well,” Mikheil Saakashvili added.

After talks with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, and Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze, the U.S. President will address the Georgian citizens from Freedom Square. Georgian officials say that tens of thousands of people are expected to come.

Bush is expected to speak about the democracy in Georgia and the unsolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Georgian side is expected to push the issue of Russia’s role in Georgia’s unsolved conflicts, as well as the issue of the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, during the talks with the U.S. President.


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