IN THE NEWS #485 - Bush Travels to Europe

By Cynthia Kirk

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

President Bush has been meeting this week with European leaders in five countries. It is his first visit to Europe as president. Political experts consider it an important test of his foreign policy leadership.

President Bush visited Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Poland and Slovenia. He met Wednesday with top NATO officials and Thursday with leaders of the fifteen European Union nations. They discussed such issues as missile defense, NATO expansion and the environment.

European leaders have expressed concern that the United States will act without the support of European nations in its foreign policy decisions. Mr. Bush is seeking support for his policies. He promised to work with European allies on issues of shared concern.

Mr. Bush urged NATO leaders to prepare for future expansion of the alliance. And he promised that the United States would not act on its own to withdraw peacekeeping troops from the Balkans.

President Bush's discussions with the European leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, center on two areas of concern. One is missile defense. Mr. Bush is seeking support for a proposed missile defense system. He says an anti-missile system is necessary to defend against threats from terrorists and some countries.

Establishing the new system would mean ending the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that the United States signed with the Soviet Union in Nineteen-Seventy-Two. That agreement limited development of missile defense systems. Mr. Bush said the agreement is no longer useful.

American officials said Spain and several other countries have offered some support for the proposed missile defense system. But some NATO members fear it would harm all arms control efforts. Russia and China also reject the proposal.

European leaders also disagree with the United States about the best ways to deal with the warming of the Earth's atmosphere. The European Union supports a global warming treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. The treaty says industrial nations must reduce the release of gases produced by burning oil, coal and gas. The gases cause the Earth to get warmer by trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere.

President Bush has rejected the treaty. He says it should include developing nations such as China and India. He says the goals of the treaty would harm the American economy. Before he left for his Europe trip, he called for more research about the problem and for better technologies to reduce gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Supporters of the Kyoto treaty say the only way to reduce these gases is to force nations to do so. They note that the United States produces more of these gases than any other country.

This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English