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Bush Visits Europe

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush board Air Force One, Friday
President Bush travels to Europe Friday for ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. He begins his trip in Latvia.

President Bush meets with Baltic leaders here in Latvia and will take questions from reporters in a joint news conference with the heads of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia are refusing to attend Monday ceremonies in Moscow marking the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany because the end of the Second World War in Europe was the beginning of more than four decades of Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.

In an interview with Lithuanian television before he left Washington, President Bush said he will remind Russian President Vladimir Putin that Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians do not view this anniversary as a great moment of celebration.

Instead, he says, he will make clear to the Russian leader that there is great angst in the Baltic states over this anniversary. Mr. Bush says he hopes President Putin will work in a cooperative way with these Eastern neighbors because, he says, it is in Russia's interest to have free democracies on its border.

U.S. National Security Advisor Steve Hadley says the president will use this trip to encourage Europeans to look forward and focus on what ties them together.

"We do share common values of democracy and freedom, and we should be talking about ways - while acknowledging the past, we ought to be talking about ways to move forward and advance those principles not only in Europe, but also beyond," he said.

In the Netherlands, President Bush will meet with Queen Beatrix and visit with U.S. and Dutch veterans at a cemetery holding the remains of more than eight thousand Americans killed during the Second World War.

Mr. Bush will be the first American president to visit the former Soviet republic of Georgia and will address a gathering of more than 100,000 people in Tblisi's Freedom Square. Mr. Hadley says Georgia's Rose Revolution is a landmark in the history of liberty.

"The president will pay tribute to that accomplishment, and commend the people of Georgia for choosing democracy and standing up for their freedoms through non-violent means," he said.

Mr. Hadley says the president's message on this trip is that democracy is not just about gaining sovereignty and declaring majority rule but is increasingly about the rule of law, respecting minorities and safeguarding individual rights.

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