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Bush Praises US-European Relations on Eve of European Trip

On the eve of a trip to Europe, President Bush has described U.S.-European relations as a "key pillar" in winning the global war against terrorism.

Mr. Bush Monday told graduates at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, that the European trip comes at a critical moment for the United States and its allies.

The U.S. leader heads to Vienna Tuesday. He is to attend a meeting with European Union leaders Wednesday in the Austrian capital.

Mr. Bush said the United States and Europe are to take new steps to strengthen cooperation in transportation security, and fighting terrorism and terror financing. He also said they will renew a commitment to support the voices of peace and moderation in the Muslim world.

His published agenda includes talks with European Council president Wolfgang Schuessel and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

EU leaders say they also plan to raise the issue of closing the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The recent suicides of three detainees at Guantanamo have brought renewed calls to shut down the facility.

Thousands of protesters also are expected to take to the streets of Vienna to protest Mr. Bush's visit and the war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush is to travel on to Budapest, where he is to meet Thursday with the president and prime minister of Hungary.