Ahead of US President George W. Bush's highly-anticipated visit to Europe, both sides are all smiles. The US President seems intent on making amends with Europe, and the continent's leaders are only too happy to.
This time Bush will get a warmer welcome from EU leaders
"America needs Europe and Europe needs America and by working together we can make the world a better one," Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said in a statement on Friday.
Bush was similarly agreeable in an interview he gave to Germany's ARD television before his trip. In his comments, he confirmed Europe and Germany's importance in the international community, and their importance to America.
"Europe is extremely important for America and Germany is extremely important for Europe," he said. He said Washington expects Germany to have a role in stabilizing Iraq, although "our German friends … must feel good about it."
Bush: Iran "rumors" not true
Despite the agreeable tone, Bush and the European allies will have some tough issues to work through. On the top of the list is what to do about Iran, which is suspected of harboring ambitions to develop nuclear weapons. In her visit ahead of Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States favored a hard-line against Iran.
Technical staff are seen in this photo taken at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility in central Iran which is nearing completion. The EU and America are trying to get Iran to stop attempting to enrich uranium.
Europe, particularly Germany, France and Great Britain have been pushing for a diplomatic solution and some EU politicians have been alarmed by the sabre-rattling out of Washington. But Bush rejected fears the U.S. was planning a military action.
"I hear these rumors about military attacks and they are simply not true," Bush said in the interview.
Bush will arrive in Brussels on Sunday, have dinner on Monday with French President Jacques Chirac and visit the headquarters of the European Commission Tuesday evening after meeting with EU and NATO heads of state. Barroso plans to host a dinner with Bush, EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country is currently holding the European Union's rotating presidency.
On Wednesday, he makes a visit to Mainz, Germany to meet up with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The two, who have, by all accounts, made up after a deep rift opened following Schröder's anti-war stance, will discuss the Chancellor's controversial comments on rehauling NATO. Schröder suggested earlier this week that NATO should no longer be the "primary venue" for the transatlantic dialogue.
"I look forward to reminding Gerhard Schröder that NATO is an active institution," Bush said.