- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2001

President Bush will lunch with Queen Elizabeth and meet again with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he travels Wednesday to Europe, his second trip in a month across the Atlantic.
Mr. Bush will also meet with Pope John Paul II in Rome and visit American troops in Kosovo after attending an international summit in Genoa.
Leaders from the Group of Eight, the seven wealthiest industrial countries plus Russia, plan to focus on ways to alleviate world poverty. The G-8 will also inaugurate an international AIDS fund with $200 million from the Bush administration.
"The president's overall objective for the Genoa Summit is to advance a vision of partnership between the G-8 and developing countries based on mutual responsibility that will help build a world that is more free, secure and prosperous," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in a trip preview Friday.
The AIDS pandemic, she said, "is a great humanitarian tragedy, but it is also a great tragedy for countries that are trying to make it out of poverty."
Miss Rice was critical of press reports from Mr. Bush's first European visit and said she hopes the media do a better job covering this presidential trip.
"A backdrop to the president's two trips has been his focus, the focus and the conversations and coverage on an alleged values gap between America and Europe, centered around the death penalty, gun control, biotechnology and climate change," she said. "Less noticed is the fact that the president's first trip simply cut through a lot of that conversation by focusing the Atlantic community on the big picture."
One presidential scholar said this trip does not carry the same weight as the first.
"The second time around it's always easier," said Marshall Wittmann, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. "There's less of a microscope on his every move. The pressure is lessened; the stakes aren't as high."
But he noted that a hot-button issue in America whether to allow research using embryonic stem cells will follow Mr. Bush even if he issues a decision on the matter before he leaves.
"The most interesting moment and it will be the most important photo op, the one that has domestic political ramifications is the meeting with the pope. That has such great meaning because the administration has been trying to curry favor with traditional Catholics in a relentless fashion over the last few months," Mr. Wittmann said.
Said Miss Rice: "At the Vatican, the president is looking forward to his meeting for the first time with Pope John Paul II, one of the great thinkers, moral and religious leaders of our time. … The Vatican and the United States have a close dialogue on international issues of common interest."
The president will stop first in England, where he will tour Winston Churchill's War Cabinet Museum, attend lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip at Buckingham Palace, and join Prime Minister Tony Blair at Chequers for bilateral meetings.
"The president plans to cover a range of issues with Prime Minister Blair: bilateral relations; the upcoming G-8, G-7 summit; the Balkans; the Middle East; European security, including NATO enlargement; responding to the growing threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivery; and working together on new strategic responses to the new threats," Miss Rice said.
Mr. Bush then travels to Italy on Friday for three days of G-8 meetings with the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia. The leaders have scheduled a special dinner and working session with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, World Bank President James Wolfensohn and the presidents of Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Bangladesh and El Salvador.
In his meeting with the Russian president, Mr. Bush hopes to "continue to make progress on the new bilateral agenda that they set out at Ljubljana, a constructive, realistic agenda," Miss Rice said.
Mr. Wittmann said the Kosovo stop "is an interesting continuity moment with his predecessor. The administration may be cementing its commitment to Kosovo, and this may be very critical in assuaging some of the concerns of the allies. Not just the photo ops, but what Mr. Bush says about a U.S. commitment to a sustained American presence there."

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