Monday, November 22, 2004

Chile calls off Bush banquet after security dispute

Chile calls off Bush banquet after security dispute

Sunday, November 21, 2004 Posted: 12:57 PM EST (1757 GMT)

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- Plans for a state dinner for President Bush at Chile's presidential palace were scratched Sunday after the United States insisted on security measures that Chile called unacceptable.

The change came a day after Chilean security guards temporarily blocked one of Bush's Secret Service agents from entering an official dinner.

For the Sunday event, the Secret Service insisted all guests -- totaling more than 230 -- pass through a metal detector, a top level Chilean Foreign Ministry official told CNN. U.S. officials did not dispute this account.

President Ricardo Lagos believed the measure was humiliating for guests, the Chilean official said.

Instead, Bush will attend a small dinner of about 20 people in Lagos' private dining room.

Bush's security at the 21-nation summit has been a big story in Chile, where many have complained the security measures are excessive. U.S. officials have said the measures are necessary to protect a U.S. president when traveling.

The Saturday incident was captured on camera and shown around the world.

Bush was posing for photos with first lady Laura Bush in the Estacion Mapocho Cultural Center when he heard a commotion and saw that one of his plainclothes security agents was being forcefully restrained from entering.

Bush reached into a small crowd, where people were arguing and pushing one another, and pulled the agent through the door of center. (Full story)

Bush then turned around, cocked his head proudly at his maneuver and began to greet his hosts.

The White House downplayed the incident as an unfortunate misunderstanding with Chilean security services.

U.S. officials insisted the change in Sunday's dinner plans did not reflect any tension in U.S.-Chile relations.

CNN's Lucia Newman and John King contributed to this report.