Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, at a state dinner in her honor, praised President Bush for his leadership during the Persian Gulf war.

"The free world has to thank you for your clarity of vision and firmness of purpose," the queen said during the formal toasts at the White House dinner Tuesday night.In his toast, the president touched on a theme that he raised earlier in the day, saying "bonds of friendship (between the United States and Britain) will endure to the end of time."

The queen, in the nation's capital for three days, will tour an inner-city recreation center on Wednesday with Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon and will attend a Baltimore Orioles baseball game with Bush.

On Tuesday, Bush warmly welcomed the queen on her third state visit to the United States, saying the alliance "has perhaps never been stronger" as a result of the gulf war.

Bush told the queen during the welcoming ceremony that the bonds of friendship between the two nations had been forged in the "crucible of war" and "today our alliance has perhaps never been stronger," adding that the United States and Britain "linked hands and heart in the gulf to do what was right and good."

Praising Britain's "real courage and leadership" in the gulf war, Bush said, "Years from now men will speak of American and British heroism in the gulf."

Despite the sweltering Washington weather on her arrival, the queen looked cool and refreshed in her royal purple suit with a large brimmed purple straw hat with white stripes. A large jeweled brooch was her only ornament.

"It gives me particular pleasure that this visit comes so soon after a vivid and effective demonstration of the longstanding alliance between our two countries," the queen said.