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Europe

Next Stop: Paris and More Protests

After a peaceful visit with Putin in Russia, US President George W. Bush stopped in to see his French colleague Jacques Chirac. As in Berlin, thousands of protesters were ready to greet him in Paris.

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President George W. Bush and his wife Laura continue their eight-day European tour

Only a few hours before the arrival of the American presidential delegation in Paris, French protesters were gearing up for large-scale demonstrations. As in Berlin earlier in the week, thousands of vocal demonstrators were ready to take to the streets to show their disapproval of American militarism and unilateralism in handling current world issues.

Thirty French organizations including the Green Party, partners in France’s previous leftist government, joined forces for the protests. Together, the groups organized two high-profile demonstrations on issues ranging from a possible US attack on Iraq to Washington’s policies on the Middle East, trade and the environment.

But the protesters were clear to draw the line between anti-American protests and criticism of the current American administration. "It’s not an anti-American demonstration," said Pierre Tartakowsky, Secretary General of Attac, France’s most high-profile anti-globalization group which is helping to organize the protests. "It’s against policies led by Bush and his administration. The present US administration is very aggressive and very dangerous for the future of the planet", he told reporters prior to Bush's visit.

Attac, like the other protest groups, accuses Bush of war-mongering and says his administration is using its war on terror to promote US imperialism in regions where it normally would not have a foot-hold. "We are worried he is preparing an attack on Iraq," Tartakowsky said.

The protesters said they will focus on US militarism during a demonstration at Caen in Normady on Monday, where President Bush is expected to visit an American cemetery in honor of US soldiers who died in World War II.

The protest organizers had hoped thousands of people would turn out for demonstrations to show their opposition to the current American president and his policies. So far, on the first day, only about 5,000 people participated in the Paris protests - a relatively low number for the capital city. Attac's organizer Tartakowsky says the French are "protested-out" after taking to the streets in massives numbers to protest right-wing presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen earlier in the month.

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