Bush comment angers Serbia


Summary

Mr Bush addressed two of the most crucial security problems facing Europe during his visit to Bulgaria, the last leg of a European tour that has been dominated by mounting tension with Russia.

The US president proposed setting up a panel of joint experts after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week offered to establish a joint anti-missile base.

"There is a process where we can cooperate, share information in a very transparent way, which I think would be beneficial and I would hope that the Russians would see the meetings as beneficial," Mr Bush said after talks with Bulgarian leaders.

Brinkmanship

The United States insists the shield that it wants based in Poland and the Czech Republic is aimed at knocking out the threat from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea. Russia says it believes it is the only target and Mr Putin has threatened to aim his missiles at Europe if the shield is deployed.

Mr Bush said he made it clear to Mr Putin during talks last week at the Group of Eight summit that the US does "not view Russia as an enemy."

"Russia is a country with whom we should have and can have good relations to solve common problems. One such problem is Iran. Another problem is proliferation," Mr Bush said.

He also sought to ease concerns in Bulgaria, a strong US ally, that it would not get protection from any US shield.

Mr Bush said the proposed shield was intended to stop long range missiles that would fly over Bulgaria.

Kosovo question

Russia is also a key ally of Serbia and has threatened to veto any plan which gives independence to Kosovo — a cause strongly pushed by President Bush during the Balkan leg of his eight-day European tour.

Mr Bush reaffirmed that he wanted to act on the plan for "internationally supervised independence" proposed by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

"As we seek independence for Kosovo we have also got to make it clear to Serbia that there is a way forward, maybe in NATO, maybe in the EU, and definitely in better relations with the United States," Mr Bush said.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica responded angrily, saying Belgrade was "disgusted" by what it saw as President Bush's efforts to give away Serbian territory.

"The United States has a right to support certain states and nations in accordance with its interests, but definitely not by giving away as a gift something which does not belong to it," Mr Kostunica told the Beta news agency.

Kosovo was a major cause of tension at the Group of Eight summit last week.

Mr Putin rejected a French proposal to delay any independence moves for six months to allow new negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.


Mr Bush addressed two of the most crucial security problems facing Europe during his visit to Bulgaria, the last leg of a European tour that has been dominated by mounting tension with Russia.

The US president proposed setting up a panel of joint experts after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week offered to establish a joint anti-missile base.

"There is a process where we can cooperate, share information in a very transparent way, which I think would be beneficial and I would hope that the Russians would see the meetings as beneficial," Mr Bush said after talks with Bulgarian leaders.

Brinkmanship

The United States insists the shield that it wants based in Poland and the Czech Republic is aimed at knocking out the threat from rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea. Russia says it believes it is the only target and Mr Putin has threatened to aim his missiles at Europe if the shield is deployed.

Mr Bush said he made it clear to Mr Putin during talks last week at the Group of Eight summit that the US does "not view Russia as an enemy."

"Russia is a country with whom we should have and can have good relations to solve common problems. One such problem is Iran. Another problem is proliferation," Mr Bush said.

He also sought to ease concerns in Bulgaria, a strong US ally, that it would not get protection from any US shield.

Mr Bush said the proposed shield was intended to stop long range missiles that would fly over Bulgaria.

Kosovo question

Russia is also a key ally of Serbia and has threatened to veto any plan which gives independence to Kosovo — a cause strongly pushed by President Bush during the Balkan leg of his eight-day European tour.

Mr Bush reaffirmed that he wanted to act on the plan for "internationally supervised independence" proposed by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

"As we seek independence for Kosovo we have also got to make it clear to Serbia that there is a way forward, maybe in NATO, maybe in the EU, and definitely in better relations with the United States," Mr Bush said.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica responded angrily, saying Belgrade was "disgusted" by what it saw as President Bush's efforts to give away Serbian territory.

"The United States has a right to support certain states and nations in accordance with its interests, but definitely not by giving away as a gift something which does not belong to it," Mr Kostunica told the Beta news agency.

Kosovo was a major cause of tension at the Group of Eight summit last week.

Mr Putin rejected a French proposal to delay any independence moves for six months to allow new negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.