Bush Offers Vision of Europe
As President Bush heads to a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovenia Saturday, among the most important foreign policy tools he'll bring to the table is his personality.
Both he and the Russian president know that how they get along in their first meeting can help determine the course of one of the world's most important bilateral relationships.
The Kremlin openly supported Bush over Al Gore in the presidential election, but ties soon soured over spy scandals, arms control questions, and U.S. missile defense plans.
Russia has reacted by increasing military cooperation with Iran and China, countries the U.S. considers potentially dangerous. Bush plans to raise these and other issues Saturday, and the personal relationship the two men develop could prove critical.
Bush Offers a Vision for Europe
On Friday the president was in Poland outlining his vision of a free, united Europe in the post-Cold War world.
"The Iron Curtain is no more," President Bush said Friday, as he crossed the old communist divide.
"Now we plan and build the house of freedom, whose doors are open to all of Europe's peoples and whose windows look out to global challenges beyond," Bush said.
Speaking in Poland at the Warsaw University Library, a city landmark with a facade of giant copper plates with fragments of great scholarly writings, the president cited Poland's successful transition from communism as an example for others.
"I have come to the center of Europe to speak of the future of Europe," he said. Some still call this 'the East,' but Warsaw is closer to Ireland than it is to the Urals," he added, referring to the mountain range east of Moscow. "It is time to put talk of East and West behind us."
Poland's transformation to a free-market democracy was sparked by the Solidarity union movement in the early 1980s, clinched by the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and capped by Poland's entry into NATO in 1999.
Bush began his Warsaw visit — the fourth stop on an inaugural five-nation European tour — by meeting with President Aleksander Kwasniewski at the 17th century Presidential Palace, a Baroque-style mansion where his father attended a state dinner in 1989.
At the palace, Bush announced that the United States had begun the process of transferring a second frigate to the Polish navy, and expressed support for Poland to gain membership in the European Union.
Bush said he believes in NATO membership for "all of Europe's democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings."
Fox News' Teri Schultz and the Associated Press contributed to this report