Broadcast: February 26, 2005
I’m Steve Ember with In the News, in VOA Special English.
President Bush was in Europe this week for the first time since his re-election in November.
On Thursday he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. They discussed Russian democracy and the fight against terrorism. The two leaders also said Iran and North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. On Friday Mister Putin told reporters that he is satisfied with the meeting.
Bratislava was the last city visited by Mister Bush on his five-day trip to Europe. In addition to Slovakia, he visited Belgium and Germany.
President Bush said he placed importance on a free press and observance of the rule of law during his talks with Mister Putin. Mister Putin rejected any suggestions that Russia is restricting democracy. In his words, "There can be no return to what we had before." The Russian leader also says he and Mister Bush are "very close" on a number of issues such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
They called for speeding up negotiations for Russian entry into the World Trade Organization. They also said they would work together on international ways to improve the safekeeping of nuclear material.
An agreement calls for Russia and the United States to share information about improving nuclear security. They are to jointly develop emergency plans to fight nuclear and radiological attacks. And they are to work together to develop a replacement for highly enriched uranium fuel used in research reactors. The goal is to prevent the uranium from being used to make nuclear weapons.
On Wednesday, Mister Bush met in Mainz, Germany, with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The German leader had strongly opposed the war in Iraq. But Mister Schroeder says Iraq’s future is what is important now.
Mister Bush called Europe "America’s closest ally." And, he said, "in order for us to have good relations with Europe we have to have good relations with Germany.”
The two leaders agreed to cooperate on environmental issues, even though the United States is not part of the Kyoto treaty. The United States and Germany are to increase efforts to develop cleaner energy technologies. The aim is to reduce pollution and the industrial gases blamed for atmospheric warming, without limiting economic growth.
Several thousand demonstrators marched in Mainz to protest the visit by Mister Bush. There were also protests earlier in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union and NATO. There, the president met with European Union leaders. And the North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced that all twenty-six of its members would help train Iraqi security forces. But several nations, including Germany, say they only want to do training outside Iraq.
In The News, in VOA Special English, was written by Jerilyn Watson. I’m Steve Ember.