TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – From an extraordinary display of Soviet-era imagery in Red Square and a showing of friendship with his Russian counterpart, President Bush returns Tuesday to the primary theme of his five-day European trip: a global push for greater democratic freedoms.

Bush arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia on Monday night, coming straight from the elaborate ceremonies in Moscow celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Bush hoped soaring rhetoric on the value of freedom, delivered in a speech Tuesday before tens of thousands at a symbol of this country’s democratic pursuits, would balance the trickier aspects of his presence on Red Square.

After arriving here Monday night, Bush and his wife, Laura, received an extraordinary welcome in the city’s Old Town. It was a lively scene as Georgian dancers costumed in red-black-and-white and colorful headscarves performed dozens of routines around Bush, who smiled, clapped and even shook his hips.

Bush, who stayed longer than the 20 minutes allotted by the White House, was caught up in the enthusiasm, which contrasted sharply with the unfriendly protests that have greeted him in some other countries.

As dancers leapt, whirled and stomped their feet, children performed acrobatic feats and others danced to more mournful tunes. The event was capped by a fireworks show above an ancient church on a hillside.

Afterward, Bush and his entourage dined at an Old Town restaurant and emerged to another fireworks show.

“It was great food, really good food,” Bush said, rubbing his stomach. “I recommend getting a bite here.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.