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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Bundestag, Bush Urges Unity to Beat Terror

BERLIN -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday called on European allies to transform NATO into a potent force to fight terrorism, saying to shirk the task invited "certain blackmail."

In Berlin on the first stop of a weeklong trip to Europe during which he will sign a major nuclear arms deal with Russia, he reassured European allies the United States remained a friend despite their vast differences over Iraq, trade and the environment.

But he urged Russia to stop its nuclear assistance to Iran. He said he would tell President Vladimir Putin when they met Friday: "If you arm Iran, you're liable to have the weapons pointed at you."

Against the backdrop of big anti-U.S. protests over policies, Bush warned that the United States and its 18 fellow NATO members were vulnerable to more attacks like those of Sept. 11.

"In this war, we defend not just America or Europe. We are defending civilization itself," he told the German Bundestag, or parliament. "If we ignore this threat, we invite certain blackmail and place millions of our citizens in great danger."

Bush endorsed NATO expansion but did not embrace the possibility of Russia joining the alliance. NATO leaders will sign an agreement in Rome next week that includes Russia in some alliance decision-making.

Nevertheless, Bush said a new United States-Russia partnership was being formed and called the three-page arms pact the "most dramatic reduction in history."

"Old arms agreements sought to manage hostility to maintain a balance of terror. This new agreement recognizes that Russia and the West are no longer enemies," he said.

He called Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a threat to civilization who must be confronted by all means available but earlier assured German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der: "I have no war plans on my desk."

Schr?der refused to say whether he would support U.S. military action to oust Saddam.

Calling Sept. 11 "a deep dividing line in our history, a change of eras as sharp and clear as Pearl Harbor or the first day of the Berlin blockade," Bush said the United States and Europe must throw off old suspicions and "realize our common interests."

"As it faces new threats, NATO needs new strategies and capabilities," he said.

Unlike the hero's welcomes given U.S. presidents when the Berlin Wall was in place, around 20,000 people demonstrated against Bush near his hotel Wednesday night. Protests turned violent and officials said 44 people were injured and some 50 demonstrators detained. Several people in the Bundestag raised a banner reading "Mr. Bush, Mr. Schr?der, stop your war," as the U.S. president spoke, and an uproar ensued in the chamber as officials snatched it away.

Bush is under fire in Europe over what many view as U.S. unilateralism on key issues. Washington has pulled out of the Kyoto global warming treaty and abandoned a pact setting up an international criminal court.

European allies are also concerned about hefty U.S. tariffs on steel imports and U.S. policy on the Middle East.

Bush gave no ground on any of those issues, calling the trade disputes a small part of "our vast trading relationship" and saying "wishful thinking" might bring comfort but not security in the face of terrorist threats.

He argued that the transatlantic relationship was too important to let disputes get in the way of overall goals such as fighting the war on terrorism, bringing peace to the Middle East and helping solve the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Bush also stressed that the United States planned to increase overseas development aid by 50 percent over the next three budget years. "To create a safer world, we must also create a better world."

He did not shift from his view that the United States had to confront the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

"Call it, as I do, axis of evil, call it by any name you choose, but let us speak the truth," he declared.

Bush earlier greeted U.S. Embassy workers at a breakfast reception at his hotel in downtown Berlin, then was received by Schr?der at Bellevue Palace, the official presidential residence. "Herr Schr?der, I believe it is," Bush said as he and Schr?der shook hands in bright sunshine on the palace's cobblestone courtyard.

He left Germany on Thursday afternoon, after a visit of less than 24 hours, for Russia where he and Putin will sign a landmark treaty that will cut U.S. and Russian nuclear arms to 1,700 to 2,200 each, from 5,000 to 6,000.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, speaking shortly before the arrival of Bush in Moscow, rejected the U.S. president's suggestion that Moscow was contributing to weapons proliferation with Iran.

"Sometimes, quite often, we hear what I want to stress are groundless statements that Russia is supposedly helping Iran, in particular, and some other countries develop nuclear and missile programs," Ivanov told ORT public television Thursday evening.

"This is not true. Russia sticks firmly to its international obligations and we have repeatedly told the United States this."