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Tough Words From This Cheney on U.S. Mideast Policy

Taking Allies to Task

President Bush is to leave today for an eight-day trip to Europe, the start of a round of summer travel that will take him from London, Berlin and Paris and later to Beijing for the Olympics and to Hokkaido, Japan, for next month's meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries.

With indications that U.S. allies could beat up on the administration for not doing enough to tackle global warming, Bush appears to be angling to turn the tables by highlighting allied failure to meet targets for providing development aid to Africa, a big focus for the White House in recent years.

Bush previewed his plans in a speech Thursday at the U.S. Institute of Peace. "The last G-8, our partners stood up and made strong commitments to help Africa deal with malaria and HIV/AIDS," Bush said. "They have yet to make good on their commitments. And I will remind them it's one thing to make a promise, it's another thing to write the check, and the American government expects our partners to live up to their obligations."

White House officials say the administration is on track to double the amount of aid to Africa by 2010, to $8.7 billion annually. They are declining to identify the countries that they consider laggards, but a report last year by the One Campaign, which is focused on tackling world poverty, said the G-8 is "badly off track" in meeting its 2005 commitment to double aid to Africa in five years.

A new report is due out in two weeks, and a One Campaign spokesman said the White House is correct in saying that the United States has done a better job meeting its targets -- though she also said the targets are less ambitious than those of other countries. A White House spokesman says it is counterproductive to set unrealistic targets.

'Embarrassed' About Bush

The executive producer of "American Idol" says the show was "embarrassed" to have President Bush appear on "Idol Gives Back," aimed at raising money for anti-poverty programs in the United States and Africa. "The president is always saying 'I want to be on' " the "Gives Back" episode, Nigel Lythgoe told OK magazine.

"We didn't ask the president this year to say anything because we are all a bit embarrassed about him, and the office insisted that, because the [primary] candidates were on it, the president would like to come on and say 'thank you,' " he said.

White House press secretary Dana Perino shrugged off the jibe, noting that "Malaria No More," affiliated with the show, is one partner of Bush's initiative to combat malaria in Africa. "President Bush and Mrs. Bush very much appreciate opportunities to raise awareness and funds for the cause of saving children's lives in Africa," she said.

Moving On

Deputy national security adviser James F. Jeffrey is getting his reward for long hours of service at the White House: President Bush nominated him last week to be U.S. ambassador to Turkey. Jeffrey has been the deputy chief of mission in Baghdad and the ambassador to Albania, among a long list of assignments. No word as to when he will be heading out, but Senate confirmation is not expected to be a problem since he is a career official.

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