- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

President Bush will try to overcome Russian resistance to his missile defense plan during a weeklong trip to Europe that begins Wednesday and includes stops in Germany, France and Italy.
Mr. Bush will also meet with Pope John Paul II in Rome as the Catholic Church in America struggles with sexual misconduct by priests. In Germany, anti-globalization activists are expected to protest the president's visit to Berlin.
In Moscow, Mr. Bush hopes to sign an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that would enlist Russia's cooperation in America's development of a missile defense shield. Separately, the two leaders have already agreed to sign the Treaty of Moscow, which will slash their nuclear arsenals by two-thirds over the next decade.
Last year, Mr. Putin refused the president's request to jointly scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which was blocking the United States from developing a missile defense shield. So Mr. Bush unilaterally withdrew from the treaty.
To allay fears that such a move would spark a new arms race, the president decided in November to unilaterally reduce America's stockpile of strategic nuclear weapons from its current level of about 6,500 to a 2012 level of between 1,700 and 2,200. A month later, Mr. Putin agreed to match the cuts.
Still, there have been lingering reservations in Moscow about Mr. Bush's ambitious plans to build a shield around America and perhaps some of its allies that would intercept and destroy incoming missiles.
So Mr. Bush is expected to offer Mr. Putin, with whom he has developed a strong personal rapport, an arrangement by which Moscow is kept informed of America's progress on the missile defense shield. Mr. Bush might even offer to help Russia develop its own shield.
If Mr. Putin agrees to this and other proposals, he and Mr. Bush will sign a "broad statement of principles" at their summit in Moscow, according to a senior administration official.
"There is language which talks about enhanced cooperation in many areas, to include enhanced cooperation in missile defense activities," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"This will be the last so-called arms-control summit," added another senior administration official. "From now on we will be focusing on things in the relations between our two countries that are normally found in the relations between friendly states, not in the relations of states which are in some sort of adversarial position."
Mr. Bush also wants to strengthen economic ties between Russia and the United States.
Moscow, which has been moving toward a market economy since the collapse of communism more than a decade ago, seeks greater American investment in Russia. The United States has not yet decided whether to grant "market economy" status to Russia, which would aid Moscow's effort to join the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Bush wants his Russian counterpart to lift restrictions on U.S. poultry imports. There is also a dispute over the "dumping" of cut-rate Russian steel into U.S. markets, which recently prompted Mr. Bush to impose steep tariffs.
Still, the White House hopes to develop strong economic ties in such sectors as agriculture, energy, biotechnology and aerospace.
"I hope that we would be able to say at the end of the summit that we really are opening a new chapter in the economic relationship between Russia and the United States," Alan P. Larson, undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs, told reporters recently.
The president's trip begins in Berlin, where he is expected to give a speech to the German parliament. Protests are planned by more than 100 groups, including a pro-Palestinian organization that says the Bush administration has been too supportive of Israel.


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