Dispatches > The Buzz

Flashtraffic: Bush's world tour

Fire up Air Force One. President Bush begins a world tour on May 30.

Issue: "Middle East: No easy answers," May 31, 2003

Fire up Air Force One. President Bush begins a world tour on May 30. Here's what's on the itinerary. Krakow, Poland. The president will thank Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski for deploying combat troops for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The two will also discuss future operations. Poland, a NATO member since 1999, is taking the lead in assembling an international peacekeeping force of some 7,000 soldiers headed for Iraq, 2,200 of whom will be Polish forces. It marks the president's second trip to Poland. St. Petersburg, Russia. President Bush will celebrate the city's 300th anniversary and meet with its native son, Russian President Vladmir Putin. The Bush-Putin meetings will be the first since Russia blocked final UN support for the use of force in Iraq. The White House hopes to strike a deal over missile-defense cooperation. The administration plans to deploy ground-based interceptors in Alaska and sea-based interceptors on U.S. Navy ships in 2004 and 2005. The big question is whether President Bush is ready to get tough over Russian technology sales to Iran. A new CIA assessment warns Iran is "vigorously pursuing" production of its own weapons of mass destruction: "nuclear, chemical, and biological-and their delivery systems." Specifically, the agency says, Russia has helped build "Iran's nuclear technology infrastructure." That is especially troubling, given that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says flatly that "senior al-Qaeda leaders ... are busy" in Iran plotting new terror attacks. Evian-Les-Bains, France. This is the site of the G-8 economic summit (the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and Canada) scheduled June 1-3. Mr. Bush and the G-8 leaders will discuss the future of Iraq, his new Middle East economic initiative, and ways to revive the world economy. A meeting with French President Jacques Chirac is on the Bush agenda despite recent tensions, White House officials say. He is also expected to meet with China's new President Hu Jintao, who took office in March. But in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, the real story may involve meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. President Bush still says "Saudi Arabia is our friend," but adds there are "killers on the loose" inside the Kingdom. The Bush administration is putting intense pressure on the Saudi government to crack down on al-Qaeda cells, even sending CIA Director George Tenet to Riyadh to underscore the message. "It's time to face reality head-on," admitted Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Fahd, in an interview with Reuters. "We have to acknowledge we have a disease called terrorism. There's no doubt about that anymore."

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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