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Bush Stresses Trans-Atlantic Unity in Paris

By Paula Wolfson
13 June 2008

U.S. President George Bush is using the latest stop on his European trip to urge what he calls a new era in trans-Atlantic relations. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports from Paris, Mr. Bush says the United States and Europe must now do more to help freedom flourish in the Middle East.

President Bush says the time has come to move beyond issues directly tied to the trans-Atlantic relationship and tackle those of world-wide importance.

"We are increasingly looking to matters of global reach. Instead of dwelling on our differences, we are increasingly united in our interests and ideals," said Mr. Bush.

He says a Europe that is whole and free in the post Cold War era must see to it that other regions of the world live in peace and prosperity.

"The rise of free and prosperous societies in the broader Middle East is essential to peace in the 21st century, just as the rise of a free and prosperous Europe was essential to peace in the 20th century," he said.

In a speech on the grounds of the Paris headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Bush spoke of the challenges present in places like Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Afghanistan.

Throughout his European tour, Mr. Bush has been calling on European nations to increase their commitments of troops and aid to Kabul. At the OECD, he said France has followed through. And he singled out French President Nicholas Sarkozy for praise.

"President Sarkozy has said what is at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic alliance. He is right," added Mr. Bush. "Our nations must ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terror."

The speech was President Bush's first public event in Paris on this, his final official visit to the French capital.

Mr. Bush began his day in Rome with a stop at the Vatican, and a meeting with Pope Benedict.

The pope usually greets foreign dignitaries in his private study. But this time, he welcomed the president outside and took him for a stroll through the Vatican Gardens.

A choir performed as they watched from chairs on the lawn. They also toured a restored medieval tower where they surveyed the view from a balcony, and visited a grotto where the pope often prays.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says they discussed such issues as human rights, combating AIDS in Africa and poverty around the world. She says the president and the pope have established a good relationship, enabling them to hold talks on a wide range of topics.

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