6 FEBRUARY 2009 There was a particularly warm atmosphere in Washington this week as former British prime minister Tony Blair became the first European statesman to be introduced to the Obamas. Clearly thrilled to meet the charismatic couple, Mr Blair greeted Michelle Obama with a hug and kiss, before Barack Obama thanked his "very good friend" for coming.
The Edinburgh-born politician, now a Middle East peace envoy, was the guest of honour at a prayer breakfast in the American capital. And the 55-year-old, who had a particularly close relationship with Mr Obama's predecessor George Bush, had some words of advice for the new leader. "The truest friends are those still around when the going gets toughest," he said.
For his part Mr Obama had kind words about his visitor, describing him as "somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do". He added: "He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish. And we are very grateful to him."