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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:30, February 22, 2005
Bush urges greater trans-Atlantic unity
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US President George W. Bush on Monday urged greater unity in transatlantic ties, saying that both America and Europe face a moment of consequence and opportunity.

In a speech delivered at the Royal Concert, a 19th century government building for banquets and meetings, Bush said the alliance of Europe and North America is the "main pillar of our security in a new century".

"Our strong friendship is essential to peace and prosperity across the globe and no temporary debate, no passing disagreement of governments, no power on earth will ever divide us," said Bush who is on a three-day visit to Brussels.

He said that US and Europe together can once again set history "on a hopeful course away from poverty and despair, and toward development and the dignity of self-rule away from resentment and violence, and toward justice and the peaceful settlement of differences".

"As past debates fade, and great duties become clear, let us begin a new era of trans-Atlantic unity," Bush said.

He urged both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to cooperate in issues as the Middle East peace process, Iraq reconstruction, the promotion of economy and the fight against poverty.

"Our greatest opportunity, and our immediate goal, is peace in the Middle East," he said, adding that a free and peaceful Palestine can add to the momentum of reform throughout the broader Middle East region.

On Iraq reconstruction, he said it is now time for Western countries to give tangible political, economic and security assistance to Iraq.

The president also stated that his government backs Europe's democratic unity, saying that a strong Europe will be a strong partner for the United States in the hard work of advancing freedom in the world.

Both the United States and Europe share the same ideals and interests in the world, he stressed.

"Our ideals and our interests lead in the same direction: By bringing progress and hope to nations in need, we can improve many lives, and lift up failing states, and remove the causes and sanctuaries of terror," he said.

Monday is the first day of Bush's stay in Brussels. He met Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt in the morning and will have dinner later with French President Jacques Chirac.

He will attend NATO and the European Union summit meetings on Tuesday before flying to Germany Wednesday for talks with his German counterpart Gerhard Schroeder.

The five-day Europe tour will also take him to the Slovak Republic where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is expected to pay a visit to the Slovak Republic after meeting with Bush.

His tour, just one month after inauguration of his second term, is aimed at healing bruised transatlantic ties following the Iraq war.

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