Bush warns Europe of 'new' threats
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush began his first European visit seeking to deflect criticism of his stand on global warming and plans for a missile defense system.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar after the two leaders' private meeting in Madrid on Tuesday, Bush urged governments to "think differently in order to keep the peace."
Bush said: "We must work together to prevent or resolve regional conflicts, to eliminate barriers to free trade, to extend Europe's zone of peace and stability by enlarging the great institutions of European unity and strengthen our ability to meet new challenges to our security.
"I look forward to meeting with Russian President (Vladimir) Putin to set out a new and constructive and realistic relationship between Russia and the United States.
"I'm looking forward to talking to President Putin, to assure him of our friendship and to offer him a strong normal relationship with America."
Asked about criticism from some European countries over his refusal to back the Kyoto protocol on global warming and his plans for a national missile defense system, Bush said: "There is a lot that unites us -- trade, common values, great opportunities.
"I look forward to making my case … about missile defense. It starts with explaining to Russia and our European friends and allies, that Russia is not the enemy of the United States.
"That the attitude of mutually assured destruction is a relic of the cold war and that we must address the new threats of the 21st century if we are to have a peaceful continent and a peaceful world.
"Those new threats are terrorism based upon the capacity of some countries to develop weapons of mass destruction and therefore hold the United States and our friends hostage.
"It is so important we think differently in order to address those threats. I believe that people are interested in our opinion. I believe Mr Putin is interested in our opinions.
"The ABM treaty is a relic of the past. It prevents freedom-loving people from exploring the future and that's why we've got to lay it aside, and that's why we've got to have the discussions necessary to explain to our friends and allies as well as Russia that our intent is to make the world more peaceful, not more dangerous."
On global warming, he said: "I made a strong statement yesterday, that said our nation is concerned about CO2 emissions and that we have begun the process to address that problem."
But he repeated his criticism of the Kyoto Treaty, which he has rejected much to the consternation of European allies.
He said: "I felt that the Kyoto Treaty was unrealistic, not based upon science. The stated mandates in the Kyoto Treaty would affect our economy in a negative way.
"I did say we must continue the process of dialogue"
Earlier, Bush and Aznar issued a joint statement about nuclear weapons.
It said: "We face a growing threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles for their delivery. We are engaged in a consultation process with all interested parties about this new threat.
"We agree on the need for a comprehensive security strategy that encompasses both offensive and defense deterrent systems, continues nuclear arms reductions, and strengthens WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and missile proliferation controls, and counter-proliferation measures."
At the press conference, Bush said: "I shared with President Aznar my administrations desire to work with our European partners, to build a Europe that is whole, free, peaceful and linked in solidarity with the United States.
"This week I'll be meeting with two great institutions of Europe -- NATO and the European Union -- to affirm our common purposes and to chart our path ahead of us.
"Europe has often had a history of division and conflict, but Europe today is writing a new story, of democratic progress, economic reform and ethnic tolerance.
"This commitment to a united, prosperous, peaceful Europe is an American commitment as well.
"America benefits when Europe is united and peaceful and prosperous."
Bush's first official trip to Europe will take him to Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Poland and Slovenia.
Bush also announced he will visit Britain -- not part of this week's tour -- in July on his way to an international economic summit in Genoa, Italy.
A spokeswoman for the British government said: "Prime Minister Tony Blair is delighted that President George Bush has accepted his invitation to visit the United Kingdom next month."
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