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Bush Seeks to Ease Divisions in Krakow Speech


President Bush says it is time for the United States and Europe to put differences aside, and come together in the defense of liberty. He spoke in Krakow, Poland, the first stop on a week-long tour of Europe and the Middle East.

The president sought to ease the divisions created by the Iraq war, and begin to heal the wounds.

In the only speech of his European tour, he focused on that which unites nations across the Atlantic. He said the challenges facing the allies are great, particularly the terrorist threat. He said this is not the time to stir up divisions in a great alliance.

"This is a time for all of us to unite in the defense of liberty and step up to the shared duties of free nations," Mr. Bush said.

He squinted into the sun, as he spoke to a large crowd seated outside Krakow's Wawel Castle. It was his second visit to Poland, and the president noted that two years ago he went to Warsaw and spoke of his vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace. He said America's commitment remains firm.

"I have come to Krakow to state the intentions of my country," he said. "The United States is committed to a strong Atlantic alliance to ensure our security, to advance human freedom and to keep peace in the world."

He said the recent history of the alliance has seen unity of purpose and bitter debate a reference to the strong opposition to the Iraq war demonstrated by France, Germany and Russia. Mr. Bush said, in essence, ties have been tested but not broken.

"Europe and America will always be joined by more than our interests. Ours is a union of ideals, and convictions," the president said.

Throughout his speech, the president sprinkled in references to the Polish people, their struggle against tyranny, and their support in Iraq. He spoke of the moral leadership of two sons of Poland: Pope John Paul II, and holocaust survivor and author Elie Weisel.

Shortly before the speech, the president visited the sites of two Nazi death camps: Auschwitz and Birkenau. His face was grim as he spoke to reporters about the camps, and the unspeakable horror that occurred there.

"The sites are a sobering reminder of the power of evil and the need for people to resist evil," he said.

His voice rose as he talked about the victims and their families.

"Mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses. And this site is also a strong reminder that the civilized world must never forget," president Bush said.

The need to stand strong against evil is a message that is sure to resound throughout his travels. From Poland, Mr. Bush goes to Russia and then on to France, where he will attend the G-8 economic summit.

He will leave the summit early and travel to the Middle East for what could be a crucial effort at diplomacy. After meeting with Arab leaders, Mr. Bush hopes for a three-way summit with the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers. In Poland, he said he would call on all parties to stand up against violence and work hard for peace.

"No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation, and killing and mourning," he said.

The president said he will do all that he can to help the parties reach an agreement and then see to it that the agreement is enforced.