At least 200 protesters in Goteborg, Sweden were arrested Thursday night in a confrontation with police while President Bush met with European Union leaders, officials said.
More than 1,000 activists battled with police after authorities blockaded a school for several hours, claiming that some of the protesters inside planned violence during demonstrations against Bush and the EU.
Police refused to allow up to 400 activists to leave the building to take part in a rally Thursday night. Their supporters approached the building and began pounding on metal containers that the police had placed around it.
The school was one of several assigned to house anti-globalization, anti-European Union and environmental groups that have descended on Goteborg in the last few days.
As part of his five-nation European tour, President Bush was in Sweden to emphasize U.S.-European cooperation and play down differences over how to address global climate changes Thursday.
"The values and the goals we share are durable and they're healthy and they're great goals," Bush said at a press conference.
The conference was held to discuss the results of a summit attended by Bush and the 15 European Union nations at Gunnebo Slott, an 18th-century castle 9 miles outside Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city.
At the same press conference, Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson stated that the European Union nations were committed to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which was negotiated by the Clinton administration but was rejected by the United States Senate in a 95-0 vote.
The treaty commits industrialized countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012. The president has insisted the treaty is flawed and would hurt the U.S. economy.
Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative, told reporters Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, that he was "somewhat optimistic" that the trans-Atlantic disagreement over Kyoto eventually would be settled amicably.
EU Commission President Romano Prodi said he was pleased that the U.S. agreed to take part in next month's global warming conference in Bonn, Germany.
Also, as part of his effort to convince Europeans to support a missile defense shield, Bush declared: "Russia is not the enemy of the United States.
"The Cold War is over and the mentality that used to grip our nations during the Cold War must end," Bush said at the conclusion of the summit.
Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
The summit also yielded an agreement to launch a new round of global trade talks this fall in Qatar, and a discussion on how EU nations could contribute to the $10 billion fund that the United Nations, with seed money from the U.S., is creating to combat AIDS and other diseases ravaging Africa. Human rights issues on the Korean Peninsula were also discussed.
Agreeing to Disagree
Earlier, in private meetings, Bush and Persson "agreed to disagree" on a variety of issues, including climate change, trade, security, human rights and AIDS.
Persson joined Bush in his limousine for the ride from the airport. When asked what they discussed, Persson said "Life" while Bush quipped, "How beautiful Sweden is."
Awaiting Bush in Goteborg was a touch of home: a brown leather "Texas armchair" donated to the White House by a Swedish business group, which described it as "traditional American cowboy design."
The gift is intended to symbolize industrial collaboration between U.S. and Goteborg-based companies. It was on display in the lobby of a Goteborg hotel used by reporters traveling with Bush.
At least 12,000 protesters were expected throughout Goteborg Thursday at rallies against Bush, the EU and international businesses. Organizers insisted the demonstrations would be peaceful, but local merchants anticipated trouble. Several downtown businesses, including at least one McDonald's restaurant, had boarded-up storefronts.
|Respond to the Writer|