Iran, WTO, energy security top agenda of EU-US summit

Iran Materials 21 June 2006 12:38 (UTC +04:00)

(Xinhua) -- Iranian nuclear issue, the WTO talks and fighting terrorism are among the top of the agenda for the European Union (EU)- U.S. summit, which is due to be held on Wednesday in Vienna, it was revealed on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, U.S. President George W. Bush arrived at Vienna, and at the summit on Wednesday he is expected to hold talks with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who holds the revolving EU presidency, European Commission President Jose Barroso, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other officials, reports Trend.

Prior to Bush's visit to Vienna, the European Commission (EC),the executive body of the EU, said there are four "main topics" on the agenda of the one-day summit, namely, "foreign policy", "energy", "economy and trade", and "climate change".

As for foreign policy, the EC press release explains that it would mainly focuses on Iran, the Middle East and promotion of democracy.

As for economy and trade, the EC said the summit is aimed to move towards conclusion of the Doha WTO round negotiations, maintaining open investment regimes, and adopting a strategy for the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in third countries.

The EU will also raise the need to extend the US Visa Waiver Program to all citizens of EU Member States.

This was echoed by the U.S. side.

"Iran will certainly be a topic with the EU leadership, but I think it will be simply to review the bidding, where we are, and reaffirm what has been very good cooperation and solidarity on the international community," White House National Security Adviser Steve Hadley said prior to Bush's tour.

On May 31, the U.S. sharply changed its position on Iran by agreeing to join the EU to hold direct talks with Iran if Tehran suspends its current nuclear program.

On June 1, the U.S. China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany agreed in Vienna on a new package of resolving the Iranian nuclearissue, and it was presented by Solana on June 6, but Tehran has not yet made formal response.

Trade is another issue that will come under scrutiny in Vienna, particularly the outlook for progress in the current round of world trade negotiations.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are struggling to meet a year-end deadline for completion of the so-called Doha round of trade talks. In a recent Washington address, President Bush acknowledged the talks are in trouble, and called on all nations to make concessions.

"Now is the time for the world to come together, and make this world a free trading world, not only for the benefit of our own economies, but as an important part of the strategy to reduce poverty around the world," Bush said.

However, EU trade officials complain the United States is calling on others to take action, but is not willing to make enough concessions of its own, particularly in the area of agricultural trade.

Energy security and cooperation is an issue to be highlighted by the EU side at the upcoming summit.

Following the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute last Christmas, the EU attached vital importance to energy security, and later the EU finalized a common energy policy.

It was reported that the EU tried to join hands with the U.S. to come up with a common policy on energy for the G8 summit in July.

Against the will of the United States, however, the EU is preparing to press Bush on thorny issues like closing of Guantanamo military prison and clarifying CIA flights in Europe.

Last week, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution, urging the EU leaders to raised the above issues at the EU-U.S. summit.

During the EU summit last Thursday, Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik told a press conference that those issues would be discussed at Wednesday's summit.

Bush will remain in Vienna for less than 24 hours, before heading on to Budapest, Hungary. Enditem