Bush heads to Europe to talk war and peace
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush leaves Wednesday for his weeklong European tour to reinvigorate allied cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terror and to sign an arms reduction treaty with Russia.
"He goes as an optimist. He goes as somebody who sees so much that we and Europe have done together to help protect the world, and so much that we have in common," said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
Bush will embark on his trip early Wednesday morning, heading first to Germany where he is expected to be greeted by demonstrations against U.S. policies ranging from the environment to the Middle East.
The president will try to explain why he believes the war on terror should be expanded and other U.S. policies on Thursday when he addresses a special session of the Bundestag, the German legislature.
"He will outline his vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace, and discuss Europe's and the United States's hard work and joint success in realizing the vision," said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Germans and other Europeans have complained that the United States too often has acted unilaterally in diplomatic, military and trade policies.
Many countries have stated they would not support an attack on Iraq. The European Union is miffed over Bush's efforts to protect domestic steel, and the EU, Japan and other countries may impose tariffs on U.S. steel.
The Bush administration has downplayed the disputes, saying they are part of any relationship between democratic countries. They also said the World Trade Organization is the appropriate forum for the steel and other trade disputes.
Rice said the president would "consult with some of our oldest friends and most important allies" about NATO's role in counterterrorism, among other topics.
Germany is also where the president will meet up with first lady Laura Bush, who has been on her first solo European tour.
The high point of the president's trip will take place Friday in Moscow when he and Russian President Vladimir Putin sign a treaty reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds over 10 years.
Rice said the pact closes the door on yet another vestige of the Cold War and opens another door on a "new era of cooperation and friendship."
While Rice praised Moscow's diplomatic role in Southeast Asia between India and Pakistan, she said Bush intends to talk a lot about the Russian-Iranian relationship.
Russia is helping Iran build nuclear power plants and the United States is concerned the facilities might be diverted to other uses and some of the items that Iran wants could later be aimed at U.S. forces.
"We also want to talk about weapons of mass destruction, their control, controlling the materials so that biological, chemical, nuclear leakage doesn't happen," said Rice.
On Saturday, Bush will join Putin in his hometown of St. Petersburg where both leaders will address students at the university and take questions. Later, President Bush and his wife will tour the famed Hermitage museum.
Then it is on to France Sunday, where Bush will meet with President Jacques Chirac and discuss French cooperation in the war on terror and upgrading NATO's capabilities.
Bush will spend Monday's Memorial Day -- the U.S. holiday in remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country -- in Normandy where he will tour the Normandy American Cemetery and lay a wreath.
In Rome, Bush is to meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson. Members of the NATO-Russian Summit will sign the new agreement which will mark Moscow's new relationship with the trans-Atlantic alliance.
Before he leaves Italy, Bush will call on Pope John Paul II.
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