- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2001

President Bush is getting a rowdy welcome, politically and personally, as he makes his first trip to Europe as chief executive.
Officials yesterday were dealing with protests and security threats in at least four European countries, even as the leaders of France and Germany were issuing a joint position paper that directly challenges Mr. Bush on missile defense and the global-warming treaty.
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder yesterday concluded a summit in southwestern Germany by releasing a joint statement that implicitly rejects Mr. Bushs contention in Madrid yesterday that the long-standing ban on ballistic-missile defense systems is "a relic of the past."
"France and Germany consider that the risks of ballistic proliferation necessitate the reinforcement of the multilateral instruments of nonproliferation," the two leaders said in a statement.
Although the French and German leaders meet regularly, this latest get-together was timed two days before the first formal summit between Mr. Bush and top representatives of the European Union in Sweden.
The joint statement appeared to be an effort to present a united front against Mr. Bush on two issues that have heightened trans-Atlantic tensions in the early days of the new U.S. administration. Many in Europe worry that even a limited U.S. missile-defense system would encourage other nations to boost their own missile stocks in order to maintain a deterrent.
Mr. Chirac, a conservative, told reporters after the conclusion of the summit in Freiburg, Germany: "Even though defense systems must be studied, theres another necessity which must be stressed, which is nonproliferation."
Lukewarm at best to Mr. Bushs missile-defense idea, the French and German leaders are deeply skeptical of Mr. Bushs plans to modify or scrap the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in order to proceed with the defense plan.
Mr. Bush meets with the leaders and top defense officials of the 19 NATO countries in Brussels today before proceeding to a summit tomorrow with the European Union in Gothenburg, Sweden. A two-day EU summit in the Swedish city begins Friday.
A number of security incidents and protests were reported yesterday.
In Spain, Mr. Bushs first stop in a five-day, five-country tour, about 250 boisterous environmental and human rights protesters denounced the presidents position on everything from global warming to the Middle East, shouting "Bush, go home" outside the U.S. Embassy in Madrid as he rested inside.
Swedish police yesterday removed 40 activists from a protest area near the meeting site for tomorrows summit. Five persons suspected of planning to sabotage the gathering were arrested in a separate raid on an apartment in Gothenburg.
Police in Poland also have stepped up security measures after discovering explosives in a parcel near the Warsaw hotel where Mr. Bush will stay Friday night.
Miroslav Gawor, a Polish government security specialist, said the government is taking extensive precautions in advance of the visit.
In Norway, activists for the environmental group Greenpeace boarded a tanker loaded with oil bound for the U.S. market. The activists, who staged a similar protest in France Sunday, are protesting Mr. Bushs opposition to the Kyoto treaty designed to cut emissions of gases associated with global warming.
This article was based in part on wire service reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide