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SWEDEN: Bush and EU Fail on Global Warming

by Paul TaylorReuters
June 14th, 2001

President Bush and European Union leaders failed to resolve deep differences over global warming Thursday, but agreed to stay together in the Balkans and made some progress on world trade.

Bush conferred with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, holder of the EU's rotating presidency, and European Commission President Romano Prodi, at a manor house outside Sweden's second city, while violent protests flared in the town center.

Protesters hurled paving stones and bottles at police who surrounded a school where activists had gathered for a planned day of anti-globalization and anti-American demonstrations.

Mounted police responded by charging the protesters.

On the most contentious transatlantic dispute since Bush took office in January, Persson told a joint news conference they ''agreed to disagree'' about the Kyoto Treaty on climate change, which the new U.S. administration has repudiated.

The tone of their public and private exchanges was friendly but frank, with both leaders standing firm on differences ranging from global warming to the death penalty.

Bush reaffirmed his opposition to the protocol limiting air pollution, which he called unbalanced and unrealistic, but he added, ''That doesn't mean we can't work together and will work together on reducing greenhouse gases.''

Bush stressed his commitment to staying with NATO peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, laying to rest campaign talk of pulling U.S. troops out and leaving the mission to the Europeans, which had sparked alarm in Europe.


New Trade Round

On world trade, a joint statement said, ''We are committed to launching an ambitious new round of multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO ministerial meeting in Doha (in November), and, in our high level discussions in recent weeks, have made progress toward this shared goal.''

However, officials acknowledged there were still differences over agricultural trade and environmental issues and did not yet have an agreed common position to launch the talks.

Bush, who got a mixed response from NATO allies Wednesday to his plans for missile defenses, said he strongly supported the expansion of both NATO the EU, but he did not say which new states should be admitted or when.

''I believe the stronger Europe is, the better it is also for America...I strongly believe in NATO expansion and I believe that the EU ought to expand as well,'' he said.

With senior NATO and EU officials in Macedonia on an urgent mission to try to defuse the latest ethnic conflict in former Yugoslavia, Bush and EU leaders agreed they would stay the course together in the Balkans.

They stressed the need for political, not military, solutions in the latest ethnic flashpoint in southeastern Europe and deflected any talk of NATO military action there.

European governments had been alarmed by talk from the Bush camp during last year's presidential election of pulling U.S. troops out of Europe's major trouble zone and leaving the task of peacekeeping and ''nation building'' to European allies.


Environmental, Iranian Protests

One of the biggest police operations in Swedish history kept protesters away from the summit site in the city center.

Fearing a rerun of anarchist violence that has dogged international gatherings since the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization conference, police sealed off a large perimeter around the summit center with a 7-foot-high double fence and barricaded approach roads with freight containers.

An estimated 7,000 Iranian exiles supporting the Iraqi-based People's Mujahideen armed opposition movement rallied peacefully against alleged human rights abuses in Iran.

Thousands of environmental activists converged on Gothenburg to demonstrate their hostility to a man dubbed the ''Toxic Texan'' for his refusal to accept the Kyoto treaty.

Two police cars were smashed, but violence subsided quickly and police eventually allowed the militants to leave the building they had gathered in after searching them, witnesses said.

Opening the talks, Persson noted that the EU shared many common values with the United States, but they differed on moral issues such as on the death penalty, dramatized this week by the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Prodi stressed that the Europeans wanted to strike up a good personal relationship with the Republican president despite a string of policy differences.

''This is the first time (we meet) so the most important thing is chemistry, how we work together. We have to work together for years, so it is important how you feel the first time,'' the EU's chief executive said.





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