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21 February 2005

White House Report, February 20: Bush's Trip to Europe

Iraq, Iran, Chinese arms embargo to be focus of talks, U.S. official says

President Bush, in talks with European leaders, will emphasize that the transatlantic alliance, which constitutes a community of values, should also be “a community of action for the advance of freedom in the world,” a senior administration official says.

Iraq, Iranian nuclear ambitions, a possible lifting of the Chinese arms embargo by Europeans as well as economic development and environmental policy are among the major issues likely to come up in the discussions, the official said during a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Brussels, Belgium.

A response to the Iranian nuclear program, the official said, does not involve a “tactical difference” between the United States and its European allies. Rather, the official said, the issue is “how we get Iran to live up to its commitments.”  What is essential, the official said, is “not allowing ourselves to fall into a trap of looking at each other and talking about each other as if the tactical approach is the real problem, when the issue is Iran’s behavior.”

The official said the administration would have “real problems” with the European Union lifting the arms embargo on China and would want consultations before any final decision. “And we sense a readiness on the part of Europeans to have that kind of conversation," the official said.

On global environmental and development issues, the official said, European and U.S. officials will seek “to build on common actions based on our common values, rather than focus on some of the differences we’ve had in the past.”

On another issue, the official said that since the successful January 30 elections in Iraq, NATO and the European Union are more prepared than a year ago to help the new Iraqi government.  “Now, we’ll see what form that takes, but I sense a new willingness on the part of the Europeans to help out, and a seriousness on their part about a strategic dialogue with us," the official said.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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