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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:27, February 21, 2005
Bush arrives in Brussels on three-day fence-mending visit
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US President George W. Bush's Air One flight landed in Brussels Sunday evening, marking the beginning of his three-day fence-mending visit. He is expected to hold talks with European leaders on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Mideast peace process, top priorities on his agenda.

He will also hold bilateral talks with his Belgian hosts and French President Jacques Chirac on Monday.

Finding new ways to support the new governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, advancing an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and spreading freedom and democracy to parts of the world are the key topics during his discussions with European leaders.

The trip, first of its kind since his victory in presidential reelection last year, is primarily designed to heal frayed feelings caused by the Iraq war and to bolster US-European alliances.

"Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic understand that the hopes for peace in the world depend on the continued unity of free nations," the president said in a radio address Saturday.

"We do not accept a false caricature that divides the Western world between an idealistic United States and a cynical Europe. America and Europe are the pillars of the free world," he said.

During his talks with European leaders at both the NATO and European Union summit meetings on Tuesday, it is widely expected that he will try to shore up support from Europe for Iraqi reconstruction and more and better cooperation on the front of fighting terrorism.

Iraq war is an issue which has divided Washington and some of its European allies and has led to deepening rifts. Bush's visit is a good opportunity to heal the wounds.

"Next week's visit by President Bush to Europe, following the tour by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, marks a desire by Washington to try and heal the wounds caused by the Iraq war and secure European support for US foreign policy," European Policy Center researcher Fraser Cameron said.

Europe, at the same time, also wants to give momentum to the transatlantic ties.

"I am very much looking forward to welcoming President Bush to the European Commission and to exchange views on key bilateral and multilateral issues impacting transatlantic relations. America needs Europe and Europe needs America and by working together we can make the world a better one," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said last week.

The trip will also take Bush to Germany and Slovakia where he will meet with his German, Slovak and Russian counterparts.

In preparations for Bush's visit, all the three countries have taken extraordinary security measures including closure of high-ways, city roads, subways and offices. To ensure the success of the visit, more than 2,500 police officers are deployed in Brussels in sensitive areas.

Source: Xinhua

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