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Bush Seeks "Strong" Europe

It may be riddled by internal divisions, but the EU can count on support from its most important ally. During the US-EU summit, US President Bush said he wanted the crisis-hit bloc to be a "strong" global partner.


Support from a powerful quarter: Bush with EU leaders

"The United States continues to support a strong European Union as a partner in spreading freedom and democracy and security and prosperity throughout the world," President George W. Bush said after Monday's annual US-EU summit at the White House.

Bush spoke after meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the current EU president, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The European Union is reeling after its failure to agree on a long-term budget and the postponement of plans to adopt a constitution after French and Dutch voters crushingly rejected the charter.

Gipfeltreffen EU USA George Bush

From left: Luxembourg's prime minister and EU President Juncker, Bush and European Commission President Barroso in the White House

"We made clear in our frank and open and friendly talks with the president that the European Union is not (on) its knees," said Juncker, who has warned that the 25-nation bloc may see its global influence shrink.

United stance on North Korea, Iran, Lebanon

In a series of joint statements, the United States and the European Union declared a united front on issues like North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, Iran's atomic energy ambitions and recent elections in Lebanon.

They demanded that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear weapons "in a permanent, transparent, thorough, and verifiable manner," while renewing their support for six-nation diplomacy.

On Iran, the US and the EU reaffirmed their support for talks led by Britain, France and Germany and urged Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment and reprocessing and cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

In his remarks, Bush thanked Europe for "sending a clear message to the leadership in Iran that we're not going to tolerate the development of a nuclear weapon." Tehran denies charges that it seeks atomic weapons.

Wahlen in Libanon

Voting in Lebanon on June 12, 2005

Washington and Brussels also jointly welcomed Lebanon's elections, which led to a victory by the anti-Syrian opposition, and said they would consider calling an international conference to solicit support for a new government.

"Once the Lebanese government has defined its reform agenda and should it so request, we will consider convening an international conference to consolidate support for the Lebanese people and the new government," said a joint US-EU statement.

In their joint statements, the two sides also reaffirmed their support for Israel's controversial plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank and expressed strong support for Palestinian elections.

"We support the holding of free, fair, and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, under the scrutiny of international observers and with full freedom of movement for candidates and voters," they said.

They also expressed "deep concern" about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and said they stood ready to provide help in the event of a dire food shortage there.

Moving past Iraq

Wahlen Irak Wahllokal in Berlin

A woman enters a registration office for the elections in Iraq in Berlin in Jan. 2005

Both sides insisted that deep transatlantic divisions over the war in Iraq were an issue of the past, with Bush and Juncker pointing to US-EU sponsorship of an international conference on Iraqi reconstruction that is set to open in Brussels on Wednesday as evidence of overcoming disagreements.

"There may have been past differences over Iraq, but as we move forward, there is a need for the world to work together so that Iraq's democracy will succeed," said the US president.

"When it comes to substance, when it comes to progress, when it comes to democracy, to freedom and to liberty, both the US and the European Union are cooperating closely together and working in the same direction," said Juncker.

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