Issues Facing Bush on his European Tour | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.02.2005
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Issues Facing Bush on his European Tour

US President George Bush travels to Europe hoping to solidify a new spirit of cooperation with European allies. Here is a rundown of the trip's major issues.

-- IRAQ: Armed with the success of Iraq's January 30 national elections, Bush is seeking to overcome any lingering resentment over the US-led invasion and enlist allied help to rebuild the country. Washington hopes all 26 NATO members will contribute one way or another to the training of Iraqi security forces, providing political cover if not substantive support for the operation.

-- MIDDLE EAST: With prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace looking brighter, both Europeans and Americans see the process as a key test of transatlantic cooperation. Bush, who announced a $350-million aid package to help develop Palestinian institutions, is looking to his allies to make their own contributions and pressure Arab states to follow suit.

-- SYRIA-LEBANON: The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri has sparked a round of Franco-American cooperation in efforts to force Syria to pull out of Lebanon. Bush will also be scouting support to pressure Damascus to end its backing for insurgents in Iraq and Islamic militants seeking to wreck the Middle East peace process.

-- IRAN: The United States and the Europeans have been
struggling to stay on the same page in efforts to halt Iran's
suspected nuclear weapons program. The Americans are impatient over the slow progress of European-led negotiations and want UN sanctions. The allies say they need more direct US diplomatic support -- and less veiled threats of military action.

-- CHINA: Washington is unhappy at the prospects that the European Union will lift an arms embargo on China imposed after the massacre of pro-democracy students in 1989. It says the move would send the wrong signal on human rights and could tilt the military balance in the region. The EU could adopt a code of conduct for sales to appease the Americans.

-- INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: The Europeans are irked over the US refusal to back the ICC set up in The Hague to try war crimes suspects. The Americans fear it could be used for politically motivated prosecution of US diplomats and soldiers. The issue has come up again with a UN proposal to use the ICC to try suspects for crimes in Sudan's violence-wracked Darfur region.

-- GLOBAL WARMING: Bush's trip will come a week after the landmark Kyoto Protocol on global warming took effect, with the United States conspicuously on the sidelines as a non-signatory. The president's rejection of the pact to curb the emission of greenhouse gases is a major source of his unpopularity in Europe.

-- RUSSIA: Bush will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Slovakia to discuss the war on terror and other issues, and likely chide him on Moscow's slow move towards democracy. The US leader will also have a chance to see Ukraine's new president, Viktor Yushchenko, in Brussels to celebrate his victory over electoral fraud and a Moscow-backed opponent.