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Bush Europe Trip Focusing on Trade, Terror, Arms Reduction - 2002-05-22


President Bush is on his way to Berlin, the first stop on a weeklong European tour. Highlight of the trip will be the signing of a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia.

The president is visiting four countries. He may get the warmest welcome in Moscow.

The nuclear arms treaty he will sign with Vladimir Putin will cut long range nuclear warheads by two thirds over a decade, a level that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Arms control was once one of the thorniest issues facing the president of the United States. But in this post-cold war world, other concerns have emerged.

And so, as he left the White House, Mr. Bush made no reference to the arms agreement. Instead, he focused on two areas of friction with America's European allies. One is trade. The other is the future of the war on terrorism, in particular, the possibility of action against Iraq. "Even though we've had some initial successes, there's still danger for countries, which embrace freedom, countries such as ours, or Germany, France, Russia or Italy," he said. "As an alliance, we must continue to fight against global terror. We have got to be tough."

The president plans to continue that theme in an address Thursday to the German parliament, pressing the need for continued cooperation in the war on terror.

As he travels throughout the city, Mr. Bush is likely to get a reminder of the level of European concern about a possible expansion of the war. Security is tight in the German capital, and demonstrators have vowed to remain in the streets during his stay.

The president is also likely to face European anger over his trade policies. The Bush administration's decision earlier this year to increase tariffs on certain steel imports has created friction with European governments. Mr. Bush says he wants to ease their fears. "Friends benefit through free trade," he said. "I will reaffirm our commitment to trade."

On the eve of his trip, President Bush sat down for interviews with reporters from each of the countries he will visit. There was a common theme to the sessions. Each time, he stressed the need for Europe and the United States to stand together, seeking to ease fears among Europeans that under his leadership, America has no qualms about acting alone.

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