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U.S., EU to Cooperate on Terror, Counterproliferation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2003 – U.S. and European Union leaders signed agreements designed to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to increase cooperation in the global war on terror.

President Bush, speaking at a White House ceremony June 25, praised the agreements, saying the United States and the European Union will not only "make the world not only safer, but also better."

President Bush signed the agreement with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who holds the revolving presidency of the EU, and EU President Romano Prodi.

A total of 15 countries make up the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Bush said the agreement gives the United States and the EU new tools to stop the gravest threat to world security: the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. "We have agreed to work together and with others to strengthen export controls on dangerous materials," Bush said during a White House press conference following the meeting. "We also seek new methods, including active interdiction, to stop illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction."

Bush noted the United States and the European Union agree on the need to contain the proliferation ambitions of North Korea and Iran. "America and the EU agree that Iran must cooperate fully with the (International Atomic Energy Agency)," he said. "We agree that Iran must sign and comply with an additional protocol giving the IAEA new tools to investigate clandestine nuclear weapons activities. Iran has pledged not to develop nuclear weapons, and the entire international community must hold that regime to its commitments."

Prodi agreed and said the EU maintains a daily and deep dialogue with Iran. "We push that they accept all the inspections," he said. "We have to be absolutely sure."

Bush pointed out the anti-terrorism agreement will allow the United States and the European Union to more closely cooperate. "Under these agreements, we will form joint investigative teams and share information on suspect bank accounts, and expand the range of offenses that qualify for extradition," he said.

Bush, Simitis and Prodi stressed the need for the United States and the European Union to work together for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "We'll work together to achieve the two-state solution endorsed by the parties earlier this month at the Red Sea Summit," Bush said. "Progress toward this goal will only be possible if all sides do all in their power to defeat the determined enemies of peace, such as Hamas and other terrorist groups."

The president said every time there is a step toward a settlement, it is followed by "more murders in the guise of martyrdom, as those who oppose peace do all they can to destroy the hopes and aspirations of those who desire to live in peace."

Bush urged world leaders to take swift, decisive action against terror groups such as Hamas. He wants other nations to emulate the United States and stop all funding and support to the Palestinian faction that has been responsible for so many deaths in Israel.

Prime Minister Simitis and President Prodi spoke about what effect the split between some of the European countries and United States over Iraq has meant. "The United States and the European Union cannot possibly have and share on foreign policy or trade interests in all areas the same opinions," Simitis said.

"There will be issues and times where we will differ," he continued. "But friendship presupposes that we will have to agree to differ, to accept to differ. And friendship presupposes that we must be disciplined and manage our differences. We should always act on the basis that what unites us will always outweigh any issue that divides us."

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