- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

SAVANNAH, Ga. — The agenda of the Group of Eight summit of world economic powers will dovetail with President Bush’s vision to push for freedom and democracy across the Middle East to better protect the West from Islamist terrorism, said a senior administration official.

The summit, which begins in earnest today, also is poised to help bring about a major diplomatic victory for Mr. Bush — a U.N. Security Council resolution that enlists the support of even those nations that opposed the war in Iraq to help the country’s transition to a democracy.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters yesterday that the new U.N. resolution on Iraq is being “tidied up in New York” and “ought to be able to be done in a couple of days.”

“That’s very good news, because the people of Iraq need to know that the international community is ready to support them, ready to acknowledge them as the government of Iraq, ready to provide multinational support in the form of an international force,” she said.

Mr. Bush arrived in Georgia yesterday after commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day in France.

He will meet one-on-one with the other leaders of the Group of Eight — Britain, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Russia — before the summit wraps up Thursday.

Though the president also has invited leaders of six nonmember nations from Africa and the heads of Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen, Mr. Bush’s only other private meeting will be with new interim Iraqi Prime Minster Iyad Allawi.

Miss Rice suggested that such treatment of the head of Iraq’s interim government is designed to put pressure on French President Jacques Chirac, who said this week that he had reservations about the U.N. resolution the Bush administration has been pushing.

“I think it’s enormously important for the Iraqis to be in a position to speak for themselves; that is, to have a government that is now just a couple of weeks from regaining sovereignty and full responsibility for Iraqi affairs,” she said.

The issues of concern to the French, Miss Rice said, have been cleared up.

“Everybody knows that there have been differences in the past about the specific issue of Iraq, but the focus [is] on moving forward to a stable and secure Iraq, which can be the linchpin of a different kind of Middle East,” she said.

A senior administration official told reporters yesterday that the G-8 summit will produce a document tomorrow that will state a commitment to promote democracy throughout the greater Middle East.

The statement will acknowledge that each country in the region “is unique and is moving at a different pace” toward democracy, but its ultimate achievement is essential.

While the G-8 document will be an important step, realizing its goals will take “a generation” to come about, the senior administration official said on the condition of anonymity.

“No one has any illusions about the G-8 adopting a statement and some programs about reform and, by the end of this year, why the whole world will look different,” he said. “It took decades after the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act for there to be the kind of change it envisioned for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

“When the president says this is the work of a generation, he means it,” the administration official said. “This kind of change is extremely difficult for any country.”

The goal of fostering democracy in the Middle East where none now exists should not be derailed by the continuing stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said the senior administration official.

“Progress toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be pursued for its own merits,” the official said. “It should be pursued because it will improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and reduce tensions in the region.”

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