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US, EU Back Further Pressure on Iran

The United States and the European Union have agreed to step up pressure on Iran. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from Ljubljana, Slovenia, Iran's nuclear program was one of many issues discussed during talks between U.S. President George Bush and EU leaders.

President Bush says the United States and Europe must join forces to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons

"One country cannot solve all problems. I fully agree with that. A group of countries can send a clear message to the Iranians and that is: We are going to continue to isolate you, we will continue to work on sanctions, we will find new sanctions if need be, if you continue to deny the just demands of a free world," said Mr. Bush.

In their summit communiqué, the U.S. and EU leaders speak of imposing economic sanctions beyond those already put in place by the United Nations if Iran refuses to suspend nuclear enrichment. President Bush says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a dangerous place, stressing Tehran has a decision to make.

"They can either face isolation or they can have better relations with all of us if the verifiably suspend their enrichment program," added President Bush.

There was no breakthrough at the summit on another lead item on the agenda: climate change. At a news conference after the talks, Mr. Bush repeated his opposition to mandatory restrictions on emissions of so-called "greenhouse gases". But he said he remains hopeful a common strategy can be achieved.

"I think we can actually get an agreement on global climate change during my presidency, just so you know," he said.

The prime minister of Slovenia, which currently holds the revolving presidency of the European Council, represented the 27 EU members at the summit.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also took part in the meeting. He says it is important that this summit occurred in a relatively young democracy - part of a post Cold War growth spurt in EU membership.

"And now we have from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea, democratic countries living together in peace," he said.

They had a broad agenda for the summit, which only lasted a few hours - from the Middle-East, to settling a trans-Atlantic dispute over access to European markets for U.S. chickens.

On security issues, there was a demonstration of shared values with a call for China to engage in "results-oriented" talks on Tibet with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

The summit also urged the government of Zimbabwe to refrain from violence and voter intimidation and ensure a free and fair presidential run-off election on June 27.

The summit took place at a castle just outside Ljubljana. It is the same spot where President Bush held his first meeting in June 2001 with then Russian President Vladimir Putin and famously declared he looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and got a sense of his soul.

As his final summit with EU leaders ended, Mr. Bush sounded a bit nostalgic.

"My first visit as the U.S. President to Europe included my first stop in Slovenia. My last visit as U.S. President to Europe includes a first stop in Slovenia. It is a fitting circle," he said.

From Slovenia, President Bush travels to four key Western European allies - Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.