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Bush Officials Pleased With Work of G-8 Summit - 2002-06-28


Top Bush administration officials say they are pleased with the work of the G-8 summit in Canada. They point to new agreements to fight terrorism, help Russia destroy dangerous weapons and provide extra assistance for Africa.

White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says the summit addressed a number of the administration's foreign policy priorities.

She makes specific mention of summit action aimed at combating terrorism, noting this is the first G-8 meeting since the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States.

"These are all leaders who have been extremely supportive in the war on terrorism," she said. "And this summit gave them an opportunity to get together, to discuss the progress in the war on terrorism and to discuss a way forward."

Ms. Rice says two very important agreements came out of the summit. One is designed to enhance transport security for people and goods traveling by air or sea. The other provides Russia with $20 billion over ten years to help cover the cost of dismantling biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The aim is to keep these weapons from ever falling into the wrong hands.

"Given the terrorism threat that is often cited by those who worry about the legacy of these weapons of mass destruction, we think this is a very important initiative and we are delighted to get it done," she said.

The summit at the secluded Kananaskis resort also focused on global economic development, particularly ways to help African nations. Four African leaders joined in the final hours of the session, with Nigeria's Olusegan Obasanjo seated next to President Bush.

Condoleezza Rice says Mr. Bush was delighted to spend time with the Africans, and pleased that the summit adopted his position that assistance must be linked to efforts by developing countries to adopt necessary political and economic reforms.

"The United States is committed to the principle that any aid that is new assistance that goes out is going to be on the basis of performance," she said.

Ms. Rice notes there were also discussions of regional issues at the summit, including the Middle East. President Bush has said he is pleased with the response of European leaders to his Middle East peace plan, even though not one has called for the ouster of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The White House Security advisor stresses, however, that the Europeans know something has to change in order to move the peace process forward. When asked what will happen if Mr. Arafat is re-elected to head the Palestinian Authority, she said someone has to have faith in the Palestinian people to vote for leadership that can put them on a path to peace.

"Of course, the Palestinian people are going to elect their own leaders. That's what free and fair elections are about. But if we want change in the Middle East and I think everybody wants change in the Middle East then there needs to be new leadership committed to fighting terror," she said.

Ms. Rice said it is very hard to argue that the current Palestinian leadership is a partner for peace, given the events of recent months. She said the present leaders have not been willing to deal with terrorism, and have rejected opportunity after opportunity to create a better life for the Palestinian people.

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