- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

CALGARY, Canada President Bush hopes to steer his G-8 allies past disputes over trade, aid to poor countries and the Middle East and win greater cooperation in his war on terrorism, aides said yesterday.
His plan for a Palestinian state without Yasser Arafat at its helm was likely to overshadow the agenda for a two-day Group of Eight summit officially focused on joint counterterrorism efforts and aid for Africa.
But Mr. Bush, who arrived here yesterday afternoon, hoped to build on what one aide called "excellent cooperation" from G-8 nations in battling terrorism to craft joint statements on nonproliferation and transportation security.
The U.S. official, who requested anonymity, said the G-8 leaders meeting in nearby Kananaskis likely were to approve a nonbinding statement of principles on how to battle the spread of chemical, nuclear and biological arms.
The G-8 nations which account for roughly 50 percent of global trade also seemed ready to endorse a set of security guidelines and goals tied to enhancing security of aircraft and trains that cross borders.
This will amount to "going beyond" individual nations' efforts to secure their borders, the official told Agence France-Presse. "If successful, we will save lots of money in the long run while creating a better, more efficient system."
The G-8 which comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States also will discuss the global economy and efforts to help the world's poorest nations, especially in Africa.
The U.S. official said Washington also expected to hear from key allies concerned about Mr. Bush's Middle East peace plan, which has drawn a mixed welcome from European allies not ready to declare a break with Mr. Arafat.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in Berlin that the European Union and Russia believe that outsiders cannot choose Palestinian leaders and that they would resist Mr. Bush's Monday call for the Palestinians to dump Mr. Arafat.
The U.S. official said Bush could get input on his Middle East policy in bilateral meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien scheduled for late last night.
But the president almost certainly will discuss the issue when he meets today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and tomorrow in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Both leaders help shape the policy of the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
With the G-8 striving to develop an "action plan" for aid to Africa in cooperation with African leaders, Mr. Bush probably also will tangle with other leaders who say Washington's aid to Africa is insufficient.
A U.S. official defended the president's record on Africa, pointing to Mr. Bush's recent $500 million initiative to combat mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS and his plans to double, to $200 million over five years, U.S. aid for basic education.
Mr. Bush would resist a push to earmark for Africa half of the $5 billion increase in U.S. aid he announced in March, money the president said would be allocated based on implementation of successful policies, said the official.
"Fifty percent may end up there; 70 percent may end up there. But it'll be determined by performance, not geography," the official said.

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