July 12th, 2006 04:59 EST
Bush Looks to G8 Summit To Address Complex Problems By Carolee Walker
Washington - From energy security to the possibility of pandemic flu, to potential threats from Iran and North Korea, it is best to work with friends and allies to solve world problems, President Bush told a panel of foreign journalists July 10 in Washington.
“These are issues which we will solve, and we're more likely to solve them more quickly when we work together,” Bush said during a roundtable interview in advance of the Group of Eight (G8) summit, set for July 15-17 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
He also said he would be sending a message at the summit that liberty is universal, and he will call on U.S. allies and established democracies to help young democracies grow.
Among the new democracies that need assistance are Iraq and Afghanistan, the president said. Asked about the possibility that the new Italian government might withdraw from Afghanistan, Bush said “every country gets to make its own mind what to do, but I would hope that those who are weighing whether or not it makes sense to stay or go look at the consequences of failure and realize the great benefits of liberty for the people of Afghanistan.”
He cited other topics that would be discussed at the G8 summit, including the Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, and “common values” such as “transparency, anti-corruption, free markets -- values that tend to bind us and that can unite us in common purpose.”
“The world is complex. I've always felt like it's best to work with friends and allies to solve the problems,” Bush said.
He also mentioned that he and Mrs. Bush are looking forward to having dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Ludmila, “which is a good chance to continue our friendship.”
“I've spoken to Vladimir Putin frequently over the last couple of weeks on a variety of subjects,” Bush said.
He said it is in the United States’ interest for Russia to join the WTO. “It’s been a difficult negotiation,” Bush said, adding that “hopefully we can get it done. I'm optimistic about it.”
The president said he is comfortable working with new Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even though he may disagree with them on some issues. Prodi has said he will pull all remaining Italian troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, and Merkel has been critical of the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Bush thanked Italy for its contributions in Iraq and said he hoped the Italian government would continue reconstruction aid and the training of Iraqi troops under NATO auspices.
He also said he was looking forward to visiting Merkel in Germany “on her home turf” prior to the G8 meeting.
“I work hard to make sure that I've got good personal relationships with these leaders so we can solve problems,” Bush said.
“Our objective with our European friends is to have a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace and is in close concert with the United States,” he said.
Bush also cited his friendship with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who visited the president in Washington recently. The two also toured Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. (See related article).
“It’s in American interests that we work closely with Japan,” the president said. “It's also in our interests that Japan have better relations with China and South Korea.”
“I, of course, have said that to Prime Minister Koizumi,” Bush added. “It's in our nation's interest that our friends have good relations with other friends and acquaintances.”
This is important because China has developed a relationship with North Korea that might help bring that country to the negotiating table over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Bush said. (See related article.)
“Diplomacy takes awhile,” Bush said. What the world is watching now is diplomacy in action, he said.
A transcript of the roundtable interview is available on the White House Web site.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)