- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

11:54 a.m.

VIENNA (AP) — President Bush today won a robust endorsement from European leaders for his tough approach to nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea, despite trans-Atlantic differences on Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and trade.

European Union leaders emerged from a summit with Mr. Bush in this capital of cafes and cobblestones to back U.S. demands that North Korea abandon a long-range missile test and that Iran quit dragging its feet in responding to a Western plan aimed at getting it to suspend uranium enrichment activity.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that his country will respond to the proposal by mid-August.

Mr. Bush was cool to the time frame. “It shouldn’t take the Iranians that long to analyze what is a reasonable deal,” he said. “We’ll come to the table when they verifiably suspend. Period.”

The summit host, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel — whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation European Union — said it’s best for Iran to agree to the proposal as soon as possible. “This is the carrot. Take it,” Mr. Schuessel said.

On North Korea, Mr. Schuessel agreed with Mr. Bush that the communist country faces further isolation from the international community if it test-fires a long-range missile believed capable of reaching U.S. soil.

“It should make people nervous when nontransparent regimes who have announced they have nuclear warheads, fire missiles,” Mr. Bush said. “This is not the way you conduct business in the world.”

Mr. Schuessel said Europe would support the U.S. against North Korea if it test-fires the missile.

“If that happens, there will be a strong statement and a strong answer from the international community. And Europe will be part of it. There’s no doubt,” said Mr. Schuessel, who appeared with Mr. Bush and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to address reporters.

There were a host of other issues on the U.S.-EU agenda.

Across the 25-nation bloc, mounting discontent over the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the campaign in Iraq and the purported existence of secret CIA terror prisons in Eastern Europe have threatened to eclipse the talks.

Mr. Bush acknowledged European concerns about the 460 detainees held at the U.S. facility in Cuba because of their suspected ties to al-Qaeda and Taliban. However, he said the group includes some dangerous people who need to be brought to justice.

Mr. Bush said 200 detainees had been sent home and that most of the remaining 460 are from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan.

“There are some who need to be tried in U.S. courts,” he said. “They’re cold-blooded killers. They will murder somebody if they are let out on the street.”

Mr. Bush dismissed as “absurd” a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in which European nations said U.S. involvement in Iraq was a worse problem than Iran and its nuclear program.

Though Mr. Bush scores low on popularity polls in Europe, Mr. Schuessel rose to his defense, which seemed to catch the American president by surprise.

“I think it’s grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries,” Mr. Schuessel said, adding that it was Mr. Bush who raised Guantanamo and other thorny issues.

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