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For U.S.-EU, A Wary Embrace

Prepared by: Michael Moran
Updated: June 21, 2006

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Determined to present a unified front to Iran on nuclear proliferation, President Bush and the current leader of the European Union, Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang SchŁssel, warned Tehran (VOA) to respond soon to a recent offer of political and economic inducements or face a UN Security Council debate on economic sanctions. The two also cautioned North Korea against sabre-rattling in East Asia.

But dissonance continued on other fronts and forced Bush to accept the inclusion of language in the summit's joint communique meant to address European concerns (Deutsche Welle) about a variety of moves in the U.S.-led "war on terror," including the detention without charge of hundreds in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The leaders of the world's two largest economic blocs failed to settle on a formula to lower agricultural subsidies, an issue which threatens to undermine the world trade talks due to resume in Geneva next week. While Bush told a post-summit news conference he is committed to a deal (BBC), The Heritage Foundation's Nile Gardiner notes "it looks increasingly unlikely that an agreement will be reached at the World Trade Organization by the end of July as originally hoped." The subsidy issue in the Doha trade round is explained in this Backgrounder.

CFR's top analyst on Europe, Charles Kupchan, says unity on Iran far outweighs other EU issues in American eyes right now. Kupchan tells Bernard Gwertzman in an interview that transatlantic ties are much improved since 2003, when differences over the Iraq war created a major rift. Yet "Bush remains very unpopular among the European public," Kupchan says, which means EU pressure for action on the status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the probe into alleged Marine revenge killings at Haditha in Iraq, and the rendition of terrorist suspects. As the Financial Times notes, the United States ranks first in a new Harris poll that asked European citizens to name the country which poses the greatest threat to world stability. The annual Pew Research Center survey showed America's image abroad continues to deteriorate, as explained in this Backgrounder.

For all the disagreement, the communique does present a united front on Iran, which is mulling a U.S.-European inducement package (AP) aimed at getting it to eschew nuclear weapons development. Both the European Union and the United States stressed the importance of maintaining concerted pressure on Iran to Russia, which has been reluctant to support sanctions against Iran, and which hosts the annual Group of Eight (G-8) summit in St. Petersburg next month. In a meeting with Italy's new prime minister, Romano Prodi this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin favored continued IAEA monitoring (RIA Novosti), but stopped short of supporting sanctions. He noted the issue was discussed at last week's meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and stated, "our objective is to use the negotiating process between the six countries and Iran to return this issue to the IAEA. And judging by what I heard from [our] Iranian partners in Shanghai, this is entirely possible." Putin plans to discuss the Iran situation with Bush during the July meeting (FOX). CFR's Russia Task Force Report examines Moscow's strained ties with Washington.

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