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As G-8 Talks Start, Bush Defends Foreign Policies

COPENHAGEN, July 6 - President Bush vigorously defended his foreign policy today as he headed toward a summit meeting of the big industrial nations, and he signaled that he would not budge on one of the most contentious issues dividing the United States from its allies, how best to address global warming.

At a news conference with the prime minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Mr. Bush sought to rebut widespread criticism in Europe of his administration, including his policy of holding detainees in the fight against terrorism at Guantánamo Bay. He said the war in Iraq was justified despite public opinion to the contrary, and cast the United States as a leader in confronting poverty and disease in Africa.

He was especially pointed in asserting his view that the other big democracies are going down the wrong path in maintaining their insistence that curbing global warming requires a commitment to numerical goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, the host of the summit meeting scheduled to start tonight under heavy security at the golf resort of Gleneagles in Scotland, has been laboring to find some compromise on the issue that would allow the United States to join the other industrial nations in a commitment to taking action against global warming. Mr. Bush made a nod to the compromise effort at the news conference, saying, "I recognize that the surface of the earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem."

But Mr. Bush made clear that he wanted to depart from the thinking behind the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement on the issue that he rejected early in his first term. The agreement has been ratified by all the other major economic powers.

"The reason it didn't work for the world is many developing nations weren't included in Kyoto," Mr. Bush said. "I've also told our friends in Europe that Kyoto would have wrecked our economy. I don't see how you can be president of the United States and agree to an agreement that would have put a lot of people out of work."

Mr. Bush said it was time to move on to a "post-Kyoto era," in which the United States and the other big powers concentrate their efforts on developing technologies that reduce emissions rather than on requiring nations to adhere to what amount to quotas on emissions and higher energy costs.

Mr. Bush spent the first part of today - his 59th birthday - meeting in Denmark with Mr. Rasmussen and Queen Margrethe II. He started the day with a piece of Danish breakfast birthday cake. He was subsequently greeted at Mr. Rasmussen's summer home by a band playing "Happy Birthday," and at lunch later the queen had a large cake carried in and helped the president blow out the candles.

Denmark has more than 500 of its troops in Iraq, and Mr. Bush came here primarily to thank Mr. Rasmussen for sticking by the United States despite what polls here say is strong opposition to the war. Acknowledging that anti-war feeling is "current wisdom these days," the president added that "following public polls is like chasing your tail" and that in Iraq and elsewhere, "I truly believe we're laying the foundation for peace."

Unprompted, Mr. Bush brought up concerns expressed privately to him by Mr. Rasmussen about Guantánamo Bay, where the United States is holding prisoners picked up in Afghanistan and in other efforts to combat terrorism, so far without charge or trial.

Mr. Bush said there was "total transparency" at the detention center and that the International Red Cross has been free to inspect the center at any time. To those Europeans skeptical of his claims, Mr. Bush said he would "suggest buying an airplane ticket" and going to "take a look for yourself."

Along with the debate over climate change, aid to Africa will be the other big issue taken up at the summit meeting in Scotland, where Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush will be joined by their counterparts from France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia.

As on global warming, Mr. Bush shares the general goal of his allies, but comes at the problem from a different perspective. He has rebuffed Mr. Blair's call for the United States and other countries to commit a larger and specific portion of their national incomes to assisting Africa. Standing beside Mr. Rasmussen today, Mr. Bush ran through a list of initiatives the United States has sponsored to help alleviate poverty and disease in Africa, including programs to fight malaria and H.I.V./AIDS, cut the debts of the poorest nations and increase direct aid.

But Mr. Rasmussen gently chided the United States for not doing more.

"In fact, if all G-8 countries matched our effort, Africa would get $90 billion a year, instead of only $25 billion," he said glancing at Mr. Bush. "I therefore urge all G-8 countries to follow our good example."

Mr. Bush was accompanied to Denmark and Scotland by his wife, Laura, who is embarking on a trip through Africa starting on Friday, when Mr. Bush will head back to Washington.

 

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