- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

ROME President Bush denounced protesters as "dead wrong" for violently disrupting the Italian summit of industrialized nations that concluded yesterday. The summit ended with agreements by the nations to battle AIDS and poverty but disagreements over the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Leveling his harshest criticism to date against anti-capitalist demonstrators who attacked police, looted stores and burned banks, Mr. Bush displayed little sympathy for a protester with a criminal record who was shot to death on Friday as he tried to hurl a fire extinguisher at a policeman. The 20-year-old officer now faces a murder charge.

"People are allowed to protest, but for those who claim they're speaking on behalf of the poor, for those who claim that shutting down trade will benefit the poor, they're dead wrong," the president said. "I'm not one of these types of politicians that'll keep changing their principles based upon … you know, people protesting."

Strolling through the ruins of the ancient Forum in Rome just after arriving from the summit site in Genoa, Mr. Bush said: "I don't like the violent protests and neither do a lot of other people."

Those people include police, who staged an early morning raid at the headquarters of protest organizers yesterday, seizing weapons and scuffling with several demonstrators. But by late yesterday, the streets were largely emptied of the communists, socialists, anarchists and homosexual activists who had turned out in force for the three-day summit.

Aside from the bloodshed, Mr. Bush pronounced the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations a rousing success.

"I believe that which we discussed today and in the last couple of days will make the world a heck of a lot more prosperous and peaceful place," Mr. Bush said during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin just before leaving Genoa.

"The philosophy of free trade and starting a new round of free-trade discussions makes eminent sense, not only for those who happen to be prosperous today, but for those who aren't," he added. "And all the demonstrators and all the folks have to do is ask the leaders who came from the developing nations."

Mr. Bush and the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia issued a joint communique that said they "deplore the violence, loss of life and mindless vandalism."

It added: "We will defend the right of peaceful protesters to have their voices heard. But as democratic leaders, we cannot accept that a violent minority should be allowed to disrupt our discussions on the critical issues affecting the world. Our work will go on."

The communique also pledged billions of dollars in assistance to developing nations to fight AIDS, poverty, hunger, debt and corruption. But the statement also revealed a rift over the Kyoto treaty, which Mr. Bush alone opposes among the Group of Eight leaders.

"We all firmly agree on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the leaders said. "While there is currently disagreement on the Kyoto Protocol and its ratification, we are committed to working intensively together to meet our common objective."

Mr. Bush is scheduled to meet with Pope John Paul II today at the Vatican. He is expected to sound out the pope on whether scientists should be allowed to kill human embryos and harvest their stem cells for research into potential cures for diseases. Mr. Bush, a self-described pro-life president who insists life begins at conception, is torn over whether to allow federal funding for stem cell research.

Tomorrow, the president will travel to Kosovo to meet with U.S. peacekeeping forces before returning to Washington from his weeklong tour of Europe.

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