- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 8, 2004

SAVANNAH, Ga. — President Bush is poised to add another diplomatic victory today, by adding an endorsement from the Group of Eight economic powers to yesterday’s unanimous U.N. Security Council vote to support a new Iraqi government.

Mr. Bush’s intense personal diplomacy in the past week at the Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Ga., is culminating in opponents of his Iraq invasion speaking of “buried hatchets” and of working with the United States to change the political culture of the Arab world.

The president yesterday offered warm welcomes to the leaders of France, Russia and Germany — all of whom worked to rally world opinion against the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein — as the U.N. Security Council was passing a resolution that pledges strong international support for the new Iraq.

All of the leaders considered the resolution a watershed moment in their relations with the United States.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, according to a senior Bush administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has agreed to “bury the hatchet” over his opposition to the war in Iraq.

“It was the warmest meeting they’ve had since before the war,” the official said. “Last year belongs to last year. It belongs in the category of history.”

Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Bush “have views that are running in parallel from this moment forward,” the administration official said.

Mr. Schroeder will join the leaders of the other G-8 nations — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Italy and Canada — in producing a document today outlining a “Middle East initiative,” which reads like Mr. Bush’s overarching foreign-policy goal of spreading democracy throughout the troubled region.

The first step to that goal is the formation of a free and democratic Iraq — something France and Germany refused to bring about by forcefully ousting Saddam — and Mr. Bush yesterday said he is “delighted” that the former war foes helped bring the United Nations back into the picture.

“There were some who said we’d never get a resolution,” Mr. Bush said yesterday, hours before the resolution passed. They are “saying to the world that members of the Security Council are interested in working together to make sure that Iraq is free and peaceful and democratic.”

This week’s diplomatic breakthroughs might help quiet anti-U.S. sentiment abroad and blunt political attacks of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, who has complained that Mr. Bush has ruined long-standing international alliances.

“These nations understand that a free Iraq will serve as a catalyst for change in the broader Middle East, which is an important part of winning the war on terror,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush downplayed the refusal of France, Germany and Russia to send troops to help relieve the pressure from U.S. and British forces in the coming months.

“I expect nations to contribute as they see fit,” Mr. Bush said. “But of course, the key to long-term security in Iraq is for all of us to work together to train Iraqi troops to handle their own security measures. And that is precisely what we are doing on the ground, and we will work with other nations as well.”

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