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Bush 'not mad' at France over Iraq

President begins ambitious trip: six nations in seven days


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G-8 SUMMIT
Who's coming to Evian, France?

Canada: Jean Chretien
France: Jacques Chirac
Germany:  Gerhard Schroeder
Italy: Silvio Berlusconi
Japan: Junichiro Koizumi
Russia: Vladimir Putin
Britain:  Tony Blair
United States: George W. Bush
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the eve of a trip to Europe to attend the G-8 summit, U.S. President George W. Bush says he is "not mad" at France and other countries that opposed the war in Iraq.

Bush told a French television network: " I'm not mad. ... I'm disappointed, and the American people are disappointed, but now is the time to move forward."

Bush leaves Washington Friday on an ambitious seven-day, six-nation trip during which he will get personally involved in Middle East diplomacy and receive an update from U.S. officials in charge of Iraq.

He will also try to mend fences with European countries that opposed the war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Bush told the French television network FR3 that he wants to move beyond the dispute over the war, which particularly frayed relations between Washington and Paris.

While in France for the G-8 summit, Bush will dine with French President Jacques Chirac and the leaders of the other industrial democracies in the group. He and Chirac will also hold a one-on-one meeting.

"I'm going to remind him, like I'm going to remind a lot of people, that we can do a heck of a lot more together than we can arguing with each other," he said.

"I can understand why some didn't agree with our policy on Iraq, but it's now time to move forward."

Poland and Russia

Before arriving in France, Bush will visit Poland -- a strong backer of the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- and Russia, where St. Petersburg is celebrating its 300th anniversary.

In Poland, Bush will deliver a speech to the Polish people addressing the U.S.-European relationship.

U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the speech will focus "on the common agenda that we have -- the agenda for cooperation that we have ahead of us on issues like [nuclear] non-proliferation, on issues like fighting disease and poverty in the poorer areas of the world, on issues like the global economy and trade."

In St. Petersburg, Bush will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attend jubilee ceremonies in Putin's hometown, Russia's second-largest city.

Rice said one item of discussion on the agenda with Putin is the assistance Russia has given to Iran's budding nuclear program.

Iran maintains the program is a peaceful effort to produce energy, but U.S. officials believe it is designed to build nuclear weapons.

Rice said Bush and Putin will discuss steps to make sure Russia is not "contributing to the potential problems of a military nuclear program in Iran."

"We believe that we've had pretty fruitful discussions with Russia in recent months on the matter," Rice said. "I think the presidents will want to build on those."

From Russia, Bush travels Sunday to Evian, France, for the G-8 summit, the first meeting of the group since the war in Iraq, which split the group down the middle.

The United States, Britain, Italy and Japan supported the effort; France, Germany, Canada and Russia opposed it.

While at the summit, Bush will also meet with China's new president, Hu Jintao, who was invited to the gathering even though China is not a G-8 member. Trade issues and the North Korean nuclear crisis will be on the agenda, Rice said.

Arab, Mideast summits

Bush will leave the G-8 summit on Monday, a day early, to fly to Egypt for a meeting with Arab leaders before traveling to Jordan to meet the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers to discuss implementing the U.S.-backed "road map" to peace.

The plan calls for the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace next to Israel.

Bush told the French network that he will remind the Arab leaders -- including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Hamad of Bahrain and new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas -- that "they have a responsibility to the process."

"If they're interested in the achievement of peace, they must cut off the funding ... or work to cut off the financing of money to terrorist groups that would like to destroy the process," he said.

Bush said he believes Abbas is "firmly committed to the defeat of terror" and the advancement of institutions needed to create a viable Palestinian state.

Israel also "recognizes it's in their self-interest to support the notion of two states living side-by-side in peace," Bush said.

In addition to the new peace plan, Bush will also discuss his proposal for creation of a free trade zone between the United States and the Middle East, Rice said.

After meeting with Arab leaders, Bush will then travel to Jordan Wednesday, where he will meet separately with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In what could be the highlight of the trip, the president will then sit down with both leaders together to discuss the new peace plan -- if, in Rice's words, "conditions permit."

Asked what she meant by that caveat, Rice said, "We're watching the circumstances. We're watching to see if the parties are moving forward."

After the trilateral Middle East summit, Bush will visit Doha, Qatar, on Thursday to meet with Paul Bremer, the new civilian administrator of Iraq, and Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command.

Rice said Bush will meet with Bremer and Franks "to talk about how the reconstruction effort is going and how we're going to discharge our responsibilities to the Iraqi people."

No stop in Iraq is on the schedule.


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