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Bush Vows to Strengthen US-European Alliance

A day before departing on a trip to Europe, President Bush says he hopes to strengthen trans-Atlantic ties, which were strained over the conflict in Iraq. Despite differences, he says, Europe and the United States share a common interest in defeating terrorism and promoting peace.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Bush said, by working together, Europe and the United States can make the world a more secure, more just place.

"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. "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. We share the same belief in freedom and the rights of every individual, and we are working together across the globe to advance our common interest and common values."

The president acknowledged differences between the United States and Europe. In spite of this, Mr. Bush says, Europe and the United States can work together on areas of common interest.

"Even the best of friends do not agree on everything," he said. "But at the dawn of the 21st century, the deepest values and interests of America and Europe are the same: defeating terrorism, conquering poverty, expanding trade and promoting peace."

Iraq, Iran and the Middle East peace process will be among key issues addressed during the president's talks with European leaders. The United States is eager to see Europe play a larger role in Iraq.

President Bush will meet with two of the most vocal critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - as well as his closest European ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Also on his agenda is a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.