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Europe

Renewed Commitment to European-American Alliance

The American president urged Europe and the United States to set aside their differences over Iraq during a speech in Poland Saturday. The speech kicked off a week-long trip through the Middle East and Europe.

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Bush, with Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewsk, greets the locals ahead of his speech.

President George W. Bush, kicking off a week-long tour through Eastern Europe and the Middle East, praised the strength and underscored the necessity of the transatlantic alliance in Poland on Saturday.

Before a crowd of dignitaries seated in front of the Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Bush spent a good part of his speech seeking to set aside differences the United States has had with its European allies. Iraq war opponents France, Germany, on hand along with Bush to celebrate St. Petersburg's 300th birthday Saturday evening, will meet with the American leader on Sunday and Monday at the Group of Eight annual summit in France.

"We have seen unity and common purpose. We've also seen debate, some of it healthy, some of it divisive," Bush told the crowd underneath sunny skies. "The United States is committed to a strong Atlantic alliance, to ensure our security, to advance human freedom and to keep peace in the world." Words of unity in Krakow, not Berlin or Paris

In a speech that ranged from the Middle East peace process, to the establishment of clean air and water policies, Bush lauded Poland's military and police work in Iraq and the war against terror. He repeatedly stressed the importance of European-American cooperation, and repeated requests that Europe commit itself to the fight against AIDS in Africa. He also asked Europe to "reconsider" bans on importing genetically modified food.

"New theories of rivalry should not be permitted to undermine the great principles and obligations that we share," said Bush. "When Europe and America are united, no problem and no enemy can stand against us."

The comments echo the peacemaking tone Bush has adopted for his European trip. Though pointedly visiting Krakow, not Berlin, and staying a little more than a day in Evian, France, Bush has repeatedly stated his desire to put the differences between the U.S. and some European countries on Iraq behind him. Putin meets with EU

Gruppenfoto der Staatschefs im Konstantin Palast vor St. Petersburg

Countries' leaders gather for a group picture in the Blue hall of the Konstantin Palace in Strelna, outside St.Petersburg, Saturday, May 31, 2003. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday welcomed current and future members of the European Union to an elaborately restored czarist residence for a summit intended to underline Russia's central role in Europe. (AP Photo/ Udo Weitz)

Up next is a gathering of more than 100 world leaders, where he is expected to have one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is eager not to lose valuable oil contracts in the wheeling and dealing in postwar Iraq.

Putin met with leaders of the 25 present and future members of the European Union leaders ahead of the celebrations Saturday. In comments to journalists, he praised the EU-Russian agreement on Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic sea hemmed in by future EU members. He spoke of a Europe "without dividing boundaries" and proposed introducing a Visa that would allow problem-free travel between Russia and Europe. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder downplayed Putin's wish, and EU Commission President Romano Prodi said that the two sides "shouldn't just talk about the visa question, but about crime and border controls as well."

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