Bush seeks to wooEurope on Iraq

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2004SAVANNAH - US President George W. Bush kicks off the first of three crucial summits this month with leaders of G8 industrial nations amid intense American efforts to win European backing for Iraq and the Mideast initiatives, including Gulf war opponents Germany and France.

7 June 2004

SAVANNAH - US President George W. Bush kicks off the first of three crucial summits this month with leaders of G8 industrial nations amid intense American efforts to win European backing for Iraq and the Mideast initiatives, including Gulf war opponents Germany and France.

Bush hosts this year's Group of Eight (G8) summit at a luxury resort at Sea Island on Georgia's Atlantic coast following D-Day ceremonies attended by many of the same leaders in France.

The G8 members are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and Russia.

Last year's G8 summit sought to paper over a bitter split on the Iraq war which was backed by the US, Britain, Italy and Japan - with Germany, France, Russia and Canada being opposed.

But faced with continuing violence in Iraq and rising costs of occupation, Bush has dumped last year's American unilateralism and is seeking to win over G8 European heavyweights.

With this in mind, President Bush meets alone Tuesday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will have talks Wednesday with French President Jacques Chirac.

For Iraq, aside from seeking support for a new UN Security Council Resolution expected to go up for vote later Monday, Bush is pushing for a formal NATO role in the country in which 16 of NATO's 26 member states now have troops.

But Chancellor Schroeder, who led European opposition to the Iraq war, has expressed deep reservations over the use of NATO in Iraq and calls instead for Islamic peacekeepers to take a bigger role.

The NATO-Iraq debate is expected to continue at a US-European Union summit in Dublin later this month with a final decision due at the NATO summit in Istanbul 28 - 29 June.

G8 leaders are expected to endorse a now heavily watered-down declaration prepared by US officials on Middle East reform.

An earlier American draft declaration - leaked last winter - caused Arab outrage by implying the G8 should help direct Mideast reform from abroad.

The revamped and renamed text stresses changes must come from within the Mideast and gives far more emphasis to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Wednesday the G8 will meet leaders from Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain, Afghanistan and the new Iraqi transitional government.

But forging a G8 dialogue with the Arab world is getting off to a rocky start after leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and several other Arab states turned down Bush's invitation to the summit.

The summit emphasis shifts Wednesday to Africa with HIV/AIDS and development topping the agenda. Leaders from Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria are due to meet their G8 counterparts.

US officials have launched a major security operation to protect the summit from terrorist attacks - and from anti-globalisation protests.

G8 leaders are being protected by about 20,000 police and troops guarding both the Sea Island venue and Savannah, which is about 130 kilometres away, where leaders are due to hold briefings at a summit media centre.

Protesters are being kept far from the actual summit with demonstrations planned in the coastal cities of Brunswick as well as Savannah.

Demonstrations at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, Italy turned violent and one protester was shot dead by police.

Following the three-day summit, some G8 leaders are expected to travel to Washington Friday for the state funeral of former US President Ronald Reagan who died 5 June.

It was unclear which leaders would attend the funeral, with Chancellor Schroeder still apparently undecided.

DPA

Subject: German news

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