1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

US Expected to Pledge to Respect Human Rights at Summit

DW staff (jb)June 21, 2006

US President George W. Bush meets with the 25-nation European Union Wednesday in a summit expected to show that the two sides closing ranks over respecting human rights while fighting terrorism.

Pressure to close the Cuban camp is mountingImage: AP

Bush is set to pledge that the United States will respect human rights in his war on terror, according to the draft of a final statement for the EU-US summit Wednesday that arrives on the heels of European complaints over US treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Bush was greeted upon arriving in Vienna Tuesday by Austrian Chancellor and current European Union President Wolfgang Schuessel, who had earlier in the day said: "We can't have an area where law does not apply," referring to the US camp in Cuba, where hundreds of terror suspects have been held without charge.

European governments and rights groups have called on the United States to shut down Guantanamo for detaining inmates in legal limbo.

The draft of the joint statement by Bush and European Union leaders says: "Consistent with our common values, we will ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply fully with our international obligations, including human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law.

"We attach great importance to our ongoing in-depth dialogue and our common fight against terrorism and our respected domestic and international legal obligations," according to extracts of the text read to AFP.

Papering over differences

The text does not specifically mention Guantanamo, which the United States insists is needed in the war against terror.

But it appears to show that the EU and the United States will be seeking in Vienna to paper over their differences, in a movement of reconciliation that has continued since the two sides bickered deeply over the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

EU Gipfel George Bush in Wien Wolfgang Schüssel
The US and the EU hope to paper over differences at the summitImage: AP

The United States has refused to join in the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse gases but the draft text, which is still being worked on one diplomat cautioned, says: "We will work more closely to address the serious and long term challenge of climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution and will act with resolve and urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

EU states have also criticized the United States for CIA flights that allegedly stop in European countries on their way to delivering prisoners for torture.

Washington insists however that all CIA flights are in accordance with US and other nations' laws, particularly against torture.

A strong relationship

US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told reporters last week in Washington that the summit was "an opportunity to reaffirm the strong relationship between the United States and the European Union."

Bombenanschlag in Bagdad Irak
The US wants more help in IraqImage: AP

The United States and the EU now have a common line on trying to get Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, with Washington even ready to join in EU-led talks with the Islamic republic if Tehran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment.

On Monday, Bush turned up the pressure on Iran, warning of "progressively stronger political and economic sanctions" if it refuses to freeze sensitive nuclear activities in return for talks.

The United States and its partners -- Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China -- have made Iran's suspension of nuclear fuel work that could be weapons-related a condition for starting talks.

The EU and the United States are world economic leaders and major partners, with $1.7 billion (1.3 billion euros) per day in trade.

Bush hopes European leaders will improve their offer on agricultural trade to help bring about a breakthrough in stalled global trade talks, a White House official said Tuesday.