U.S. and Europe Face Diplomatic Challenges in Evian | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 02.06.2003
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U.S. and Europe Face Diplomatic Challenges in Evian

U.S. President Bush forgave Russia and largely ignored Germany on his short stopover in Evian. Though hundreds of protestors rioted in nearby Switzerland, the G8 summit kicked off as planned.


The long table of world power. G8 leaders, including Britain's Tony Blair (l.) meet on Sunday.

Observers say there is a motto that some top Washington officials go by when it comes to how to treat Europe's Iraq war opponents: "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia."

With President George W. Bush's short trip through Europe winding down with a one day visit to the alpine spa town of Evian for the Group of Eight summit, it seems two of the three have so far occurred. At a celebration of St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary in Petershof Castle Saturday evening, Bush extended his hand and a curt "how are you," to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, ending weeks of speculation in the German press on whether the two would press the flesh.

"Fine," Schröder reportedly responded, bringing the pleasantries to a close. It was the last one-on-one between the two planned for this trip. They will not meet privately at Evian.

Gipfeltreffen zwischen Bush und Putin

President Bush, left, leans in to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, right prior to the start of their Bilateral meeting at Konstantin Palace Sunday, June 1, 2003 in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Bush challenged allies Saturday to overcome their bitterness and mistrust over the Iraq war and unite in the struggle against terrorism. Bush and Putin met privately and held a joint news conference before they travel to Evian, France, for the annual summit of major industrialized nations. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Sunday morning after the Schröder-Bush handshake, Putin and Bush appeared in front of journalists after a private morning discussion. The two smiled and said they had swept aside their differences over Iraq. Bush and Putin also pressed North Korea to give up their nuclear program.

Washington apparently made no inroads in stopping Russia's involvement in developing Iran's nuclear program. Questions on Russia's concerns about losing existing Iraqi oil contracts were brushed aside.

Genetically-modified food dispute

Upon the U.S. president's arrival in France, French President Jacques Chirac met Bush and offered him a public, if stiff handshake. The two will meet privately Monday amid a G8 meeting that will cover issues ranging from sparking the slumping world economy to strengthening the Middle East peace process.

Though Bush has carried a message of reconciliation on this European trip, with stops in Krakow, St. Petersburg and Evian, the EU and U.S. might clash over Europe's import ban on genetically-modified food.

With an eye on both Africa and their own farming industry, the Bush administration has maintained that genetically-modified food, which can grow in adverse climates, is crucial to helping Africa overcome its famine woes. Europe has refused to import such products because of fears of health and environmental risks.

The meeting of the G8, which includes the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Russia, Canada and Italy, is due to end Monday.

Protestors riot, march peacefully

Tens of thousands of protestors have made their presence felt ahead of the summit. Hundreds

Sicherheitspersonal in Evian

French security personNel secure the area from their vantage point near to where G8 leaders are arriving at the Hotel Royal in Evian, France, Sunday, June 1, 2003. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

rampaged through downtown Geneva, Switzerland, on the other side of the lake from French Evian. Police officers, out in force, fired tear gas cannisters, rubber bullets and water hoses to contain the black-hooded anarchists and globalization critics.

The protestors said the G8 were ignoring the plight of the world's poor and smashed shop windows in rich towns like Lausanne and Geneva.

French and Swiss police have set up a 15 km zone around the meeting headquarters to shut out demonstrators. Thousands of protestors managed to block the road between Lausanne and the French border, which skirts Geneva, but didn't hinder delegates on their way to the summit.

Globalisierungsgegner demonstrieren in Evian

Masked anti-globalisation protestors march during an anti G8 demonstration in Lausanne, Switzerland, Sunday, June 1, 2003. About 300 masked anti-globalisation activists started rioting in Lausanne Sunday morning, looting a gas station and setting on fire trash cans and construction boards. Demonstrators have gathered in Lausanne and Geneva over the last days to protest the G8 summit taking place in nearby Evian, France, June 1 to June 3. (AP Photo/Keystone, Andree-Noelle Pot)

Law enforcement has been eager to prevent a repeat of the violence that marred the G8 summit in Italy in 2000. Tens of thousands of protestors marched peacefully chanting slogans against Iraq and world poverty.

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