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U.S./EU: Summit Presents United Front On Missile Defense, Iran

  • Andrew Tully --> Merkel (left), Bush (center), and Barroso answering questions at the White House on April 30 (epa) WASHINGTON, May 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The United States and Europe have presented a united front on Iran's nuclear program and Russia's objections to a missile-defense system that includes components in Poland and the Czech Republic.

After a meeting at the White House on April 30, U.S. President George W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also agreed to cooperate more on global climate change.

More Talking With Russia

The only area of disagreement seemed to be whether the United States was working hard enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin of the benefits of the missile-defense system.

Before their meeting, Merkel said she believes the Bush administration should intensify its efforts with Putin on missile defense.

Before their meeting, Merkel said she believes the Bush administration should intensify its efforts with Putin. Afterward, during a joint news briefing, Bush said he'll heed the advice of the German leader, whose country now holds the EU's rotating Presidency.

"[German Chancellor Angela Merkel] expressed her concerns [earlier] that the U.S. position wasn't very clear about the missile-defense systems and that there were some people concerned in Germany as well as Europe about our intentions," Bush said. "And she also suggested that it might make sense for me to share my intentions more clearly with President Putin. And I took her advice very seriously."

Bush said, as he has previously, that the system does not represents hostile intentions toward Russia and is even something Russia might want to join, to prevent possible missile attacks by Iran or North Korea.

So far, Putin has taken a dim view of the plan.

United On Iran's Nuclear Program

Merkel, Barroso, and Bush also expressed unity against Iran's nuclear program. Iran says it is meant only to generate power, but the United States and the EU suspect it is designed to develop nuclear weapons.

Barroso said Tehran should understand that it is not only the West that opposes the program.

"The Iranians should understand that it's a message they're receiving from the global community -- not by the United States, by Europe, but from others," Barroso said. "The Security Council adopted several resolutions. Nuclear proliferation is indeed a threat not only to regional stability, but to global peace and global stability. So I believe we are united in sending this very clear message here, but also in the United Nations, to the Iranian authorities."

Bush was asked whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was prepared to discuss the issue with Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki at a conference on Iraq's future to be held May 3-4 at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. He said yes, adding that Rice will be diplomatic but firm.

"Should the foreign minister of Iran bump into her, Condi won't be rude," Bush said. "She's not a rude person. I'm sure she'll be polite, but she'll also be firm in reminding this representative of the Iranian government that there's a better way forward for the Iranian people than isolation."

Pledge To Cooperate On Climate Change

Controlling greenhouse-gas emissions has been a thorny issue between the EU and the United States since 2001, when Bush announced that his administration wouldn't support the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

But Merkel, Barroso, and Bush on April 30 demonstrated unanimity on this issue. Merkel said neither Europe nor the United States wants to be isolated in the growing global-warming debate, and Barroso said both sides agreed they can't accomplish anything meaningful on the problem unless they work together.

"Let's be frank: Without the United States and Europe working together, we cannot engage others so that we can have a real global effort to face this very important threat to our economy, but also to our security," he said.

The EU and the United States issued a joint statement stating that climate change is a challenge requiring "urgent, sustained global action."

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