Bush speaks at Opec … er, Apec

United States President George Bush, who reportedly once told aides he dislikes the “small talk in big rooms” of summitry, seemed not entirely sure on Friday which world leader gathering was going.

Opening the keynote speech of his visit to Sydney, Bush thanked Australian Prime Minister John Howard “for being such a fine host for the Opec summit” — the gathering of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“Apec summit,” Bush corrected himself quickly, to laughter from his audience at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum. “He invited me to the Opec summit next year.”

White House aides later said Bush was joking and would not, in fact, attend an Opec summit.

In another miscue, the US president botched the host country’s name, referring to Howard’s visit to Iraq in 2006 as a thank you to “the Austrian troops there”. — AFP

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