Bush urging allies to move beyond Iraq - East Valley Tribune: News

Bush urging allies to move beyond Iraq

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Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2005 11:08 am | Updated: 7:51 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - President Bush was seeking to repair rocky relations with Europe on Sunday, saying "no power on earth will ever divide us." He was urging allies to move beyond differences over Iraq in the interest of Mideast peace.

"As past debates fade and great duties become clear, let us begin a new era of trans-Atlantic unity," Bush will say in a speech on Monday. Appealing for aid for Iraq, he urges the world's democracies "to give tangible political, economic and security assistance to the world's newest democracy." Excerpts of his address were released on his arrival here.

Hoping to set a more conciliatory tone for his second term, Bush will meet over five days with some of his toughest critics: French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, both of whom fiercely opposed the U.S. led invasion.

Bush also will see Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has alarmed the West with Moscow's retreat from democracy.

Monday's speech, the main address of his trip, is a conciliatory message aimed at citizens across Europe, where Bush is widely disliked.

"Today, America and Europe face a moment of consequence and opportunity," the president will say. "Together we can once again set history on a hopeful course - away from poverty and despair and toward development and the dignity of self-rule ... away from resentment and violence and toward justice and the peaceful settlement of differences."

Bush's visit was intended to soothe allies frustrated that their views on issues from Iraq to global warming were often ignored by the White House. Bush said that the European-American alliance is essential for security and global trade and offers of model of freedom for the rest of the world.

"In all these ways, our strong friendship is essential to peace and prosperity across the globe - and no temporary debate, no passing disagreement of governments, no power on earth will ever divide us," Bush will say.

"Our greatest opportunity and our immediate goal is peace in the Middle East," the president will say.

An alliance of 88 environmental, human rights, peace and other groups planned two days of protests in Brussels, beginning Monday, to demand "no European complicity" in a U.S.-designed world order.

Brussels police readied 2,500 officers - 1,000 more than the usual number for the three or four summit meetings that bring European Union leaders to the Belgian capital every year.

While seeking to move past old divisions, Bush and European leaders still face major differences.

Washington opposes Europe's plans to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo against China. Bush has been cool toward Europe's negotiations to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program. The White House prefers asking the U.N. Nations Security Council to punish Tehran.

Hard feelings linger from Bush's opposition to the Kyoto climate change treaty and the International Criminal Court.

Bush expresses support for Europe's democratic unity in his speech and says Washington supports a strong Europe. He also says Washington shares Europe's concern about global poverty.

"By bringing progress and hope to nations in need, we can improve many lives, and lift up failing states and remove the causes and sanctuaries of terror," the president will say.

An issue where the allies may find common ground is a demand that Syria withdraw its forces from Lebanon - a declaration prompted by the assassination of a former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in a massive bombing in Beirut.

The president has a private dinner with Chirac, who was a friend of Hariri.

On Tuesday, Bush is attending NATO and EU meetings. Wednesday finds the president in Mainz, Germany, for a meeting with Schroeder. The trip ends Thursday with talks with Putin in Slovakia.

Bush's talks with the Russian president are the most important of the trip, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Putin "has come out very recently and said the Iranians are not producing nuclear weapons, it's only nuclear power, and, therefore, he's going to go ahead and continue helping them. And I think that's a stern conversation they need to have," Rockefeller told "Fox News Sunday."

The question on European minds is whether Bush, after offering olive branches during his visit, will put his conciliatory words into practice and engage in give-and-take diplomacy with allies. Many Europeans are skeptical.

"Clearly Bush has learned in his first term that there are limits to what America can do by itself," said Ivo Daalder, a European expert on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration.

"He only has to look at Iraq where 85 percent of the foreign troops, 90 percent of the casualties and 95 percent of the reconstruction dollars are American," Daalder said.

In a signal of unity, NATO is expected to announce Tuesday that all 26 allies finally have agreed to contribute to the alliance mission to train Iraq's armed forces, even though some will only work outside the country or just help cover costs.

The world's most powerful military alliance has struggled to find the 160 instructors it needs to complete the first phase of the operation, which offers training for senior officers within Baghdad's heavily guarded "Green Zone."

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