Bush asks Russia to stay calm


Summary

President George W Bush has urged Russia not to "hyperventilate" over US plans for a missile defence shield.

He spoke as leaders of the world's wealthy nations struggled to reach a deal on combating climate change.

Bush made his call for calm ahead of a key meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin that is set to dominate the first full day of the Group of Eight summit.

US-Russia relations have hit a new post-Cold War low because of the US proposal to put a missile defence shield in central Europe.

The shield is "not something we should hyperventilate about," Mr Bush said after talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the sidelines of the summit.

Russia believes it is the sole target of the system and Mr Putin has threatened to aim Russian missiles at European targets if its deployment goes ahead.

Mr Bush said he was "looking forward" to meeting Mr Putin despite the dispute, which he reaffirmed was not a threat to Russia.

"I will explain to him once again that a missile defence shield is aimed at a rogue regime that may try to hold Russia and or Europe hostage."

He added: "It is important for Russia and the Russians to understand that I believe the Cold War ended, that Russia is not an enemy of the United States, that there's a lot of areas where we can work together, for example on Iran, areas of proliferation. There's a lot of constructive work we can do."

Climate change

Mr Bush also said the United States was ready to play a leading role in any new international initiative on climate change but insisted that China and India must be part of any deal.

"The US will be actively involved, if not taking the lead, in a post-Kyoto framework, a post-Kyoto deal," Mr Bush said, referring to the UN-backed treaty on cutting emissions that expires in 2012.

Mr Bush said, however, that any global accord would have to include major developing nations which were quickly joining the ranks of the world's top polluters.

"Our role is a bridge between people in Europe and others like India and China. If we want them at the table it is important that we give them the opportunity to set an international goal," he said.

"By 2008 the world's emitters of greenhouse gases should come together. Nothing is going to happen in terms of substantial reduction unless China and India participate."

Facing international pressure because of his rejection of long-term targets to cut emissions, Mr Bush hit back at suggestions that Washington was doing nothing to tackle climate change. He said US greenhouse gas emissions had declined in the last year despite the fact that the US economy had grown.

Protests

While the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States embarked on discussions, German police called in reinforcements to keep demonstrators away from the summit.

Protesters made a new bid Thursday to seal off the summit venue, gathering at the barbed wire security fence around Heiligendamm and also at two key roads which they blocked on Wednesday.

More than 140 people were arrested on Wednesday and eight police were injured in clashes which saw police fire water cannon in a bid to clear the roads and keep demonstrators away from the barriers.


President George W Bush has urged Russia not to "hyperventilate" over US plans for a missile defence shield.

He spoke as leaders of the world's wealthy nations struggled to reach a deal on combating climate change.

Bush made his call for calm ahead of a key meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin that is set to dominate the first full day of the Group of Eight summit.

US-Russia relations have hit a new post-Cold War low because of the US proposal to put a missile defence shield in central Europe.

The shield is "not something we should hyperventilate about," Mr Bush said after talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the sidelines of the summit.

Russia believes it is the sole target of the system and Mr Putin has threatened to aim Russian missiles at European targets if its deployment goes ahead.

Mr Bush said he was "looking forward" to meeting Mr Putin despite the dispute, which he reaffirmed was not a threat to Russia.

"I will explain to him once again that a missile defence shield is aimed at a rogue regime that may try to hold Russia and or Europe hostage."

He added: "It is important for Russia and the Russians to understand that I believe the Cold War ended, that Russia is not an enemy of the United States, that there's a lot of areas where we can work together, for example on Iran, areas of proliferation. There's a lot of constructive work we can do."

Climate change

Mr Bush also said the United States was ready to play a leading role in any new international initiative on climate change but insisted that China and India must be part of any deal.

"The US will be actively involved, if not taking the lead, in a post-Kyoto framework, a post-Kyoto deal," Mr Bush said, referring to the UN-backed treaty on cutting emissions that expires in 2012.

Mr Bush said, however, that any global accord would have to include major developing nations which were quickly joining the ranks of the world's top polluters.

"Our role is a bridge between people in Europe and others like India and China. If we want them at the table it is important that we give them the opportunity to set an international goal," he said.

"By 2008 the world's emitters of greenhouse gases should come together. Nothing is going to happen in terms of substantial reduction unless China and India participate."

Facing international pressure because of his rejection of long-term targets to cut emissions, Mr Bush hit back at suggestions that Washington was doing nothing to tackle climate change. He said US greenhouse gas emissions had declined in the last year despite the fact that the US economy had grown.

Protests

While the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States embarked on discussions, German police called in reinforcements to keep demonstrators away from the summit.

Protesters made a new bid Thursday to seal off the summit venue, gathering at the barbed wire security fence around Heiligendamm and also at two key roads which they blocked on Wednesday.

More than 140 people were arrested on Wednesday and eight police were injured in clashes which saw police fire water cannon in a bid to clear the roads and keep demonstrators away from the barriers.