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Bush holds talks with European leaders -

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Bush holds talks with European leaders

Reporter: Norman Hermant

TONY JONES: Even as Australia announced its new deployment, it seems all George W. Bush and his
European counterparts want to talk about is how divisions over Iraq are in the past; now it's time
for new beginnings. The US President continues his diplomatic patch-up job today with meetings in
Brussels following his speech yesterday that praised the strength of the transatlantic alliance.
Middle East peace was mentioned prominently, and so was Syria's role in Lebanon. Norman Hermant
reports.

NORMAN HERMANT: If George W. Bush looks pleased, it may be because, so far, European leaders like
what they're hearing from the US President. After reaching out yesterday to heal the diplomatic
rifts between America and Europe, today it's on to NATO and the headquarters of the European Union.
Not everyone has welcomed the US President with open arms. On the streets the night before,
thousands of protesters vented their anger outside the American Embassy. Inside, the mood was
positively jovial as George Bush met Europe's leading critic of the war in Iraq, Jacques Chirac.
Things were going so well that a reporter even asked if the French President could be heading for a
visit to Mr Bush's Texas ranch.

GEORGE W. BUSH (US PRESIDENT): (laughs) I'm lookin' for a good cowboy.

NORMAN HERMANT: "Our relations have been good for two centuries", said the French President, adding
that there had been a difference of views on Iraq, "but we have overcome it". Earlier, George Bush
had a similar message: it's time for America and Europe to get past their divisions and move
forward with a shared agenda.

GEORGE W. BUSH: As past debates fade, as great duties become clear, let us begin a new era of
transatlantic unity.

NORMAN HERMANT: The President said that unity will be put to the test on several fronts. There was
a warning about the erosion of democracy in Russia, just two days before Mr Bush meets Russian
President Vladimir Putin. On the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions, there was at least lukewarm
support for Europe's attempts to reach a diplomatic solution. But where the President really scored
with this audience was on the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

GEORGE W. BUSH: A settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is now within reach.

NORMAN HERMANT: After years of prodding, European leaders are hearing Washington is getting serious
about a deal between Israelis and Palestinians. But talk of peace in the Middle East also means
more pressure on Syria.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Syria must also end its occupation of Lebanon.

NORMAN HERMANT: The voices demanding that Syria quit Lebanon have been growing louder and louder
since the former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated last week. More than 10,000
Lebanese joined the latest protest in Beirut. And Damascus is feeling the heat. After President
Bashar al-Assad met the Arab League Secretary-General, Syria announced it would move forward
withdrawing its 14,000 troops in Lebanon, but it provided few details about how or when that would
happen.

AMR MOUSSA (ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL): There is no sense of panic, but there is a sense of
determination that serious steps would have to be taken in order to deal with that situation.

NORMAN HERMANT: Syria's presence in Lebanon still has the support of the country's powerful Shia
parties and the Lebanese Government, and the arguments for the status quo haven't changed: that
without Syrian troops, Lebanon could once again spiral into civil war.