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‘Step forward’

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'Step forward'

The top European Union diplomat in Washington praised President Bush's pledge to develop a global climate-change strategy as a "step forward for the world" but warned that any effort that lacks a new international climate treaty would be a failure.

Ambassador John Bruton called on the White House to develop a treaty that will "commit every country" in the world "to change the behavior of its people and its economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a balanced, fair and efficient way."

Mr. Bruton's assessment of Mr. Bush's proposal comes as the Group of Eight industrialized nations opened a summit yesterday in Germany with climate change as one of its top agenda items.

Mr. Bush's proposal would replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which President Clinton signed but never sent to the Senate for ratification because most senators warned him they would reject the measure over its stringent conditions that could have wrecked the U.S. economy. The Senate also objected to the treaty because it exempted major polluting nations such as China and India. Mr. Bush withdrew the United States from the treaty in 2001.

Of the 15 European countries that signed the treaty to reduce carbon emissions by 8 percent below the 1990 levels, most are failing to meet their targets. Some have even increased emissions, and some of the reductions came from closing dirty coal-fired energy plants in the early 1990s before the Kyoto treaty was drafted.

Mr. Bruton, head of the European Union's mission to the United States, said in his weekly Internet column that Mr. Bush's "willingness to engage in an international negotiation on this issue is a step forward for the world."

He blamed the "limited" success of the Kyoto treaty, set to expire in 2012, on the failure of the United States to endorse it.

Mr. Bruton, writing on the mission Web site (www.eurunion.org), urged the Bush administration to work for a treaty at the United Nations that will have "carrots and sticks" to reward nations that comply and penalize nations the fail to reduce carbon emissions. A U.N. treaty would include Third World countries, he said.

"Developing countries, all of whom are United Nations members, will thus be as committed to the goal as will developed ones," Mr. Bruton said.

"We do not want developing countries in a position of being able to be 'free riders,' benefiting from the efforts of bigger countries to reduce emissions, but without making a comparable effort themselves."

Nuclear 'genie'

The Israeli ambassador yesterday repeated his government's warning that Israel will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and predicted that the theocratic Islamic regime, whose president has called for the destruction of Israel, may be only two years from releasing that "genie."

"I really think they are on the verge of getting the genie out of the bottle and leaving our children with a nightmare," Ambassador Sallai Meridor told the Council on Foreign Relations.

He said Iran is still having technical problems in its suspected nuclear weapons program but the "worst-case scenario" is that they could develop a nuclear bomb by 2009, the Associated Press reported.

"They are not there yet," Mr. Meridor said.

He said Israel hopes that international political and economic pressure will persuade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he called a "madman," to abandon his goal. However, he added, if that fails, Israel retains "an option."

"An option [that] is on the table is they will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons," the ambassador said, adding that Israel prefers not to specify what action it would take.

"I hope you will forgive me for not sharing that," he said.

New ambassadors

President Bush this week nominated new ambassadors to Africa.

He selected Mark Green, a lawyer and former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, to serve in Tanzania and Wanda Nesbitt, a career Foreign Service officer, for the Ivory Coast.

{bullet} Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@

washingtontimes.com.

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