- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2001

LONDON — President Bush arrived here last night for his second state visit to Europe amid signs that he is facing less criticism over missile defense and global warming than he experienced during his first trip five weeks ago.
Anti-globalization protesters are expected to shadow Mr. Bush from England to Italy, but the press, which once characterized the president as an ignorant cowboy, no longer openly ridicules him now that he has one successful European trip under his belt.
Still, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said just hours before greeting the president yesterday that Britain and the United States remain at odds over the Kyoto Protocol, a global warming treaty that Mr. Bush says would harm U.S. consumers and businesses.
"We do have a disagreement with the United States of America over this," said Mr. Blair, a liberal who has been pressured by fellow members of the Labor Party to distance himself from Mr. Bush's stance. "We are in a position to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. America does not agree with that."
Mr. Blair did point out that the White House agrees it is "important and right" to reduce greenhouse gases, which some environmentalists say cause global warming.
"We are now debating the means of doing so," Mr. Blair said. "And I hope we carry on the dialogue and discussion with them so that we can bridge the gap and make the discussions that are happening on this very, very important issue succeed."
A day before departing the White House, Mr. Bush told foreign reporters the United States would be "unable to withstand" Kyoto's insistence on cutting carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels.
"The goals are unrealistic," the president said. "I've got an obligation to the working people of America to pursue a policy that protects the environment but also promotes economic growth."
He added: "I know how other nations have accepted my declaration. We'll see how they handle it with their own internal politics regarding this issue."
Last month, French President Jacques Chirac began a closed-door meeting with Mr. Bush and other leaders by strongly challenging Mr. Bush's opposition to Kyoto. Instead of returning fire, Mr. Bush said he could learn much from France, which generates most of its electricity from nuclear plants.
"You know, some leaders were more sympathetic than others," the president said this week. "Nevertheless, I do believe that people appreciated the frank assessment."
Mr. Bush reminded reporters that the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 against Kyoto. White House officials have been pointing out that of all the Europeans who profess support for the treaty, only Romania has ratified it.
The Kyoto Protocol is being discussed during a two-week conference in Germany that began on Monday.
Mr. Bush, who was accused of being reckless for pressing ahead with his missile-defense plan on the eve of last month's European trip, now is merely being pressed for a deployment timetable. Criticism has been muted by last week's successful test of the missile defense system.
Heartened by the results of the test, which was likened to hitting one speeding bullet with another, the president renewed his call to scrap the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972, which forbade the United States and the now-defunct Soviet Union from constructing a national missile defense.
"It's about time a leader stepped forward and made it clear that Russia is not the enemy, and therefore we shouldn't have a treaty that was written to clarify that status," Mr. Bush told the British reporters. "It's a new day."
Journalists who had characterized Mr. Bush as sailing into a "storm of controversy" on his European trip last month now are sounding more measured tones, saying the president "still faces tough questions."
Asked by a reporter this week if he expected criticism during his second trip to Europe, the president smiled and said sardonically: "From editorial page writers? Oh, perhaps."
But he hastened to add that his decisions on missile defense and global warming were driven by his consideration of U.S. national interests, not the opinions of editorial writers. "On both issues I have made my positions clear," Mr. Bush said. "And I made those positions on principle."
The president seemed mindful that his critics have reined in their rhetoric for his second European visit, which will take him from London to Italy to Kosovo. "Look," Mr. Bush told reporters. "My first trip to Europe was an icebreaker."
He pointed out that European leaders before his first visit knew him mainly from press accounts. "They had read things about me," the president said. "They weren't able to hear my vision. They were told things through the newspapers. Sometimes things were true; sometimes, frankly, not so true."
He said his meetings with many of the European leaders last month and his reiteration of the U.S. commitment to "basic values that we share" — freedoms of speech, press, elections and religion — began to change perceptions.
"Our European friends, I believe, are beginning to understand that about me," he said. "I respect the values of Europe. And I will not let differences of opinion get in the way for the larger vision."
While European leaders may be less skeptical of Mr. Bush during his second visit, anti-globalization demonstrators are planning to protest in force. London bus stop shelters were plastered with posters urging the public to "unwelcome Bush to Britain."
Meanwhile, in Genoa, Italy, tens of thousands of protesters are expected at this week's Group of Eight economic summit.
"Those who try to disrupt and destroy and hurt are really defeating their cause," the president said. "I think a lot of people in the world are just kind of sick of it."

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