- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

President Bush today embarks on a four-day diplomatic trip, traveling to Italy and France, where he will attend commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

At the U.S. Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs yesterday, the president connected World War II unity with the international commitment needed to bring democracy to Iraq.

“Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless, surprise attack on the United States. We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy,” Mr. Bush said.

He will carry that theme to Europe, where he will lay out a strong case for U.S. allies — especially France, which opposed the war in Iraq — that the world’s most powerful nations need to commit to making Iraq peaceful and secure.

The first test of that commitment will be a new U.S. and British resolution before the United Nations calling for countries to provide resources, including troops for a multinational force. It also gives Iraq’s new interim government control over the Iraqi army and police, and ends the mandate for the multinational force by January 2006.

The Bush administration is optimistic about the negotiations.

“The conversations that I’ve had with my counterparts around the world suggest that what people are now focused on is trying to get a U.N. Security Council resolution to support [the Iraqi] government,” National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.

Mr. Bush will have plenty of opportunities this month to try to persuade foreign leaders to help the fledgling Iraqi government.

The president will meet this week in Rome with Pope John Paul II, a fierce critic of the Iraq war.

He will meet with French President Jacques Chirac four times this month, and at least three times with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. After his trip to Italy and France, Mr. Bush will travel to Sea Island, Ga., where he will host a three-day Group of Eight meeting, which will bring together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Later this month, Mr. Bush will travel to Ireland to meet with leaders from the European Union and then stop in Turkey, days before the June 30 transfer of authority in Iraq, to meet with NATO leaders.

By the end of the month, the new Iraqi leaders are expected to have requested aid from the United Nations.

Mr. Bush faces an uphill battle. Both France and Russia, who each hold veto power in the U.N. Security Council, have expressed reservations about the U.S.-British resolution. Four of the G-8 members — France, Russia, Germany and Canada — have declared they will not under any circumstances send troops to Iraq, not even as peacekeepers.

Miss Rice said she is optimistic about winning support from foreign leaders.

“I sense in all of the countries of the alliance, all of the countries of the free world, a fundamental understanding that, however, whatever differences we had in the past, that a free and prosperous and stable Iraq is a linchpin and a key to a stable Middle East,” she said.

Throughout his trip, Mr. Bush will highlight the unity and commitment by the Allies during World War II. In France, he will give a speech at the American cemetery near Omaha Beach, where more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers died in the seminal battle of World War II.

Mr. Bush’s stop in Rome will be exactly 60 years after U.S. forces liberated the city from the grip of Adolf Hitler and two months before the liberation of Paris.

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