Bush Previews European Trip Initiatives

By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 2, 2007; 10:14 AM

WASHINGTON -- Europeans may bristle over President Bush's Iraq policy, yet he spent the week rolling out initiatives they can more easily embrace _ ones that address global warming, AIDS and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

"In all these endeavors, the American people can be proud of our global leadership and generosity," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address. "Our nation is delivering aid and comfort to those in need."

Bush leaves Monday for Europe, where he will visit six countries and attend a three-day meeting in Germany of the leaders of the world's industrialized nations. Unlike earlier summits chilled by discussion of Iraq, the Group of Eight agenda this year will focus on other international problems.

Bush talked about several of them during the week, stressing the more compassionate side of U.S. foreign policy.

On Tuesday, he announced that the United States was tightening existing economic sanctions against Sudan and slapping the government with additional ones in an effort to halt the bloodshed in Darfur that has killed 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million more from their homes.

"The people of Darfur have suffered long enough," Bush said in his radio broadcast. "We will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world. "

The conflict erupted in 2003 when members of Darfur's ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. Sudanese leaders are accused of retaliating by unleashing the janjaweed militia to put down the rebels using a campaign of murder, rape, mutilation and plunder _ a charge they deny.

Bush also directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to meet with allies to draft a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would impose multilateral pressure on Sudan. Bush wants the resolution to impose new sanctions, expand the arms embargo and prohibit the Sudanese government from conducting offensive military flights over the troubled region.

On Wednesday, Bush urged Congress to authorize an additional $30 billion to fight AIDS in Africa over five years, doubling the current U.S. commitment. The money would provide treatment for 2.5 million people under the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief.

On Thursday, his topic was global warming.

The president proposed that the United States and other nations that spew the most greenhouse gases meet and _ by the end of next year _ set a long-term strategy for reducing emissions. The president's proposal addresses "life after" 2012, the expiration date for the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States didn't sign.

Bush wants to bring India, China and other fast-growing countries to the negotiation table. He envisions that each country will set goals on how they want to improve energy security, reduce air pollution and cut greenhouse gases in the next 10 to 20 years.

Critics said Bush wants to set unenforceable targets for curbing greenhouse gas, not specific limits on emissions. They contend his proposal ignores other international efforts on climate change that are already under way, and say he is trying to avoid taking action until he leaves office.

"The president has had six and a half years to enact meaningful limits on global warming pollution, and he has failed," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said Saturday. "In fact, he hasn't even tried: Under President Bush, the United States refused to even participate in the international effort to control global warming."

On Thursday, Bush also discussed the new Africa Financial Sector Initiative to help African nations strengthen their financial systems and encourage the financial community to mobilize up to $1 billion of new private investment in Africa.

In addition, Bush said the United States wants to provide additional money for the Africa Education Initiative. The administration launched the program in 2002 and has provided about $300 million to improve education in Africa. Now, with the support of Congress, another $525 million will be spent during the next five years to provide basic education to up to 4 million children in poor nations, he said.

"With this initiative, we will help young people get the skills they need to succeed and a chance to achieve their dreams," he said.


© 2007 The Associated Press