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Bush: Important To Resolve Differences With EU Over Doha January 8, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–U.S. President George W. Bush and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday they are committed to unlocking the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of trade talks.

“We talked about the importance for Europe and the United States to resolve any differences we have when it comes to the Doha Round,” Bush said after meeting with Barroso in the Oval Office.

Barroso said the Doha talks, which stalled last summer amid a raft of disputes, including an argument between the U.S. and the European Union over trade-distorting farm policies, are at “a defining moment.”

The Doha talks are designed to cut global barriers to trade in manufacturing, services and farm products.

Neither Bush nor Barroso answered questions from reporters. They will continue their discussions, which included the Middle East, energy security, and Darfur, over lunch.

On trade, finding a breakthrough on Doha faces a difficult timetable. President Bush’s trade-negotiating authority expires in June. And the new Democrat-led Congress is expected to be cool to the White House’s free-trade agenda.

Barroso said successful Doha negotiations are “most crucial.”

“Doha’s not just about trade, it’s also about development, it’s about having a multi-lateral approach to trade,” he said.

E.U. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab attended Monday’s meeting and were present in the Oval Office during Bush and Barroso’s comments.

“The best way to help impoverished nations is to complete the Doha round, to encourage the spread of wealth and opportunity,” Bush said.

On energy issues, Bush repeated his view that the U.S. needs to achieve energy independence and safeguard the environment “at the same time.”

“We are very hopeful that the use of technologies and good policy will help us diversify our energy supplies and be able to assure future generations that the environment of the world will be better off,” Bush said.

Though Bush didn’t mention climate change, it was expected to come up in his conversations with Barroso. The European Commission will unveil a new energy and climate change package for the European Union this week. That package will reportedly include steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

“When we speak about climate change, it’s not just about the environment – of course environment is crucially important – but it is also about global security, it’s also about economic development and sustainability,” Barroso said. “And so we are hoping to deepen our dialogue on climate change, on technologies, on curbing emissions, on progress, in terms of energy efficiency, and in security.”

On the Middle East, Bush said he and Barroso discussed ways the U.S. and the E.U. can cooperate to broker peace between Israel and Palestine.

“No question the Israeli-Palestinian issue is on a lot of peoples’ minds,” Bush said. “We are dedicated to a two-state solution, two democracies living side-by-side in peace.”

By Henry J. Pulizzi, Dow Jones Newswires

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