WASHINGTON (AP) _ British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family will visit President Bush's Texas ranch April 5-7.
``The visit is an important opportunity for the president to spend time with the leader of one of the United States' most important allies, an exceptionally close partner in the war against terrorism,'' White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday. ``They'll consult (about) the ongoing campaign against terrorism as well as on key foreign policy issues.''
Bush and Blair had a particularly sharp disagreement this week when Bush slapped stiff tariffs on steel imported from many countries. Britain's trade secretary, Patricia Hewitt, said she and Blair were ``bitterly disappointed.''
Fleischer did not say which of Blair's family members will join him on Bush's ranch, and he said he did not know what issues beside the war on terrorism the two leaders will discuss.
The invitation reflected the two leaders' ``closeness,'' Fleischer said. Bush previously hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin on the ranch, and Blair hosted Bush at Chequers, Blair's country retreat outside London.
``Nothing against Washington, he just happens to like Crawford a lot,'' Fleischer said. ``The two have really hit it off. They have good relations.''