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European Newspapers Give Cool Reviews of Bush UN Speech

President Bush's appeal Tuesday at the United Nations for international assistance for Iraq has met a largely cool reception in Europe. Many newspapers and some politicians suggested that his remarks had fallen flat.

"Bush on the Defensive", "Bush Isolated", "Bush Unapologetic" - these were among the more critical remarks offered by the European press, as it assessed Mr. Bush's address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

On Tuesday, the American president called for member nations to put aside bitter differences over the war in Iraq, and to assist in rebuilding the country. President Bush also defended Washington's decision to attack Saddam Hussein's regime, arguing pre-emptive action was necessary to prevent terrorists from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

But Britain's Guardian newspaper gave Mr. Bush's speech a largely negative review, one that was echoed in other European newspapers. The Guardian described the U.S. leader as "increasingly isolated" on the world stage, as he defied intense criticism from a litany of world leaders over the war on Iraq.

France's Le Monde newspaper also described Mr. Bush as isolated in New York. It described the U.N. welcome given to the American leader as, "glacial", meaning very cold. And Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel told Belgium's Le Soir newspaper he found nothing new in Mr. Bush's speech.

Other commentators contrasted the polite applause given to Mr. Bush at the United Nations with more enthusiastic receptions offered to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and to French President Jacques Chirac. Both men argued the United Nations is indispensable in dealing with disputes around the world, even as they called for major U.N. reforms.

But Europe's response to Mr. Bush's address was not all negative. Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper suggested the president had moderated his more adamant pre-war statements on Iraq. And The Times of London suggested the U.S. leader is now closer to getting a new U.N. Security Council resolution he wants that would launch more international involvement in rebuilding Iraq.

Other European commentators focused on their own leaders. France's Le Figaro suggested Paris might ultimately help the United States in Iraq, but only in a limited way. Several German newspapers suggested German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder could help mediate differences between Paris and Washington over Iraq.