WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) will make two trips to Europe in June to mark the 60th anniversary of World War II (search), meet with European Union leaders in Ireland and attend a NATO summit in Turkey.
White House officials said Monday that Bush's travels will begin in Italy with ceremonies on June 4, the anniversary of the liberation of Rome by American and allied forces. The president also will meet at the Vatican with Pope John Paul II (search) — their third visit. Bush also will meet with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
Bush will travel June 5 to Paris to meet with French President Jacques Chirac (search). The next day, Bush will join other world leaders at Normandy to observe the 60th anniversary of the allies' landing that led to the liberation of France and the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Bush will gather with some of the same leaders a few day later when he returns to the United States to host the annual summit of leading industrial nations, being held this year at Sea Island, Ga. In addition to the United States, the participants are Britain, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Bush and Chirac have had a cool relationship because of the French leader's fierce opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and his refusal to send troops to participate in the occupation. For his part, Chirac has been angered by Bush's exclusion of France and other war opponents from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects.
Relations seem to be improving. France has indicated a willingness to forgive some of Iraq's debt — a high Bush administration priority — and both countries are seeking ways to battle terrorism together.
Later in the month, Bush will return to Europe, traveling to County Clare, Ireland, on June 25 for a summit with the European Union. From Ireland, Bush will go to Ankara, Turkey, to meet with government leaders before the NATO summit in Istanbul June 27-29.
"The trip will underscore the importance of the relationship with all of our European partners in an undivided trans-Atlantic community," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday.