US President says Russia won't attack Europe

( AP ) - President Bush on Wednesday discounted Vladimir Putin's threat to re-target missiles on Europe, saying " Russia is not going to attack Europe."

Bush, in an interview with the Associated Press and other reporters, said that no U.S. military response was required after Putin warned that Russia would take steps in response to a U.S. missile shield that would be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.

" Russia is not an enemy," Bush said, sitting in a sun-drenched garden. "There needs to be no military response because we're not at war with Russia. Russia is not a threat."

Bush and Putin will meet Wednesday at the opening of the summit of industrialized nations. Asked if he anticipated a tense encounter, Bush replied "Could be. I don't think so ... I'll work to see that it's not a tense meeting."

Bush talked with reporters for nearly an hour, touching on subjects from global warming to Iran, the suffering in Darfur to the war in Iraq. The president said he would like to see other countries follow the United States in taking steps against the government of Sudan to stop the misery in Darfur.

"I'm frustrated because there are still people suffering and the U.N. process is moving at a snail's pace," Bush said.

Bush seeks a U.N. resolution to apply new international sanctions against the Sudanese government. It would seek to impose an expanded embargo on arms sales to Sudan, prohibit Sudan's government from conducting offensive military flights over Darfur and strengthen the U.S. ability to monitor and report any violations.

On climate, Bush said he would not give ground on global warming proposals that would require mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, he backed his own proposal that the United States and other nations that spew the most greenhouse gases meet and - by the end of next year - set a long-term strategy for reducing emissions.

Bush's plan addresses "life after" 2012, the expiration date for the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States didn't sign.

Bush wants to bring India, China and other fast-growing countries to the negotiation table. He envisions that each country will set goals on how they want to improve energy security, reduce air pollution and cut greenhouse gases in the next 10 to 20 years.

"The United States can serve as a bridge to help find a solution," Bush said.

He said that the summit, running Wednesday through Friday, would produce a consensus for a post-Kyoto framework after the landmark treaty expires in 2012.

Putin rattled nerves in Europe with his weekend declaration that he would retarget missiles on Europe in response to the missile defense shield. "I don't think Vladimir Putin intends to attack Europe," Bush said.

Bush cited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that it was "too late" to stop Iran's nuclear program as justification for the U.S. missile defense system. "Therefore, let's build a missile defense system," Bush said, adding that it was time to return to the U.N. Security Council to tighten pressure on Iran to give up its suspected weapons program.

Bush insisted anew that Russia has no reason to worry about a missile shield. He said Moscow has an arsenal of nuclear rockets "that could overwhelm any defense system." Instead, Bush argued that an antimissile system would be intended to protect against rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

The president has angered Putin in the past by criticizing Russia's spotty progress on democratic reform and human rights - a theme Bush expressed in a speech just one day ago. Still, Bush said that Russia has "advanced a long way from the old Soviet era." Asked if Putin was trying to play to public opinion at home with his tough talk, Bush said he could not be sure, but added: "When public opinion influences leadership, it indicates there is an involvement of the people."

Bush said that despite all the problems, the United States has a friendship with Russia. He said the fundamental question is whether it makes sense to have good relations with Russia. "It does," Bush said.

"There will be disagreements," Bush added. "That's the way life works."

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