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EU/U.S.: Leaders Hold 'Fruitful' Summit

U.S. President Bush, Austrian Chancellor Schuessel, and the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (epa) U.S. President Bush and European leaders stressed the positive in their relationship at their annual summit, with Bush calling for a "common diplomatic front" on Iran and urging the EU to look ahead to "a hopeful democracy in the Middle East."

PRAGUE, June 21 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush and European leaders today emerged from their annual summit, held this year in Vienna, with words of praise for a meeting that they described as positive and useful.

The meeting sought to emphasize the good ties between the trans-Atlantic partners following a period of strain over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel telling reporters that "although we might have different approaches in some aspects, this should never overshadow the depth and the quality of our cooperation."

"We have come to a crossroads on the Iranian nuclear issue."

Schuessel, who described the summit as "very fruitful," said a key item on the agenda was the international community's "efforts to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons."

Schuessel added that "we have come to a crossroads on the Iranian nuclear issue."

Bush called for a "common diplomatic front" to compel Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

"It is very important for the leadership in Iran to look at the world and say, 'Europe and the United States and Russia and China are united in [the] common desire to make sure that the Iranians do not develop a nuclear weapon,'" Bush declared.

Guantanamo Bay And Iraq

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay (epa)

But the summit was not only about things the trans-Atlantic partners agree upon. The summit also discussed European concerns over the U.S. prison for terrorist suspects in Guantanamo.

The U.S. president responded to those concerns by saying he wants to close down the center and send the detainees back to their home nations.

But he said there are detainees at Guantanamo who present a continuing security risk, a statement that suggests he believes the facility cannot simply be closed down overnight.

On Iraq -- another often controversial subject between Europeans and Washington -- Bush said he is confident the new Iraqi government will succeed.

But, Bush added, Baghdad needs help from the EU and from the United States, and he urged European states to move beyond disagreements over the decision to invade Iraq.

"What's past is past, and what is ahead is a hopeful democracy in the Middle East," he said. "I believe the Maliki government [in Iraq] is going to succeed."

Other Issues On The Agenda

The U.S. president also said he is committed to a two-state solution in the Middle East -- Israel and an independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace.

Turning to the North Korean missile crisis, Bush said Pyongyang's apparent plans to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile are "disturbing." He said North Korea must honor agreements it has made on not testing missiles.

"What's past is past, and what is ahead is a hopeful democracy in the Middle East."

"It should make people nervous when nontransparent regimes that have announced that they have got nuclear warheads fire missiles," Bush said. "So, we've been working with our partners, particularly in that part of the world, to say to the North Koreans that this is not the way you conduct business in the world."

The summit also touched on issues such as the Balkans, global warming and climate change, and world trade.

Bush told reporters that Washington remains committed to a successful round of talks on global trade at the World Trade Organization. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was convinced the round could be concluded successfully.