EU, US target Iranian banks, warn Russia on Georgia (Lead)

June 10th, 2008 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Brdo (Slovenia), June 10 (DPA) The European Union (EU) and the US agreed Tuesday to consider new sanctions against Iran’s financial network and cautioned Russia against meddling in Georgia’s breakaway regions. At a summit with top EU officials in Brdo, Slovenia, US President George Bush took the lead in calling for tougher action to keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb. He expressed understanding for recent talk in Israel about possible military action.

“Now’s the time for there to be strong diplomacy,” Bush told a news conference. “There’s a lot of urgencies when it comes to dealing with Iran.”

In a joint statement, both sides renewed calls for Iran to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

“We will continue to work together … to take steps to ensure Iranian banks cannot abuse the international banking system to support proliferation and terrorism,” the leaders said.

Bush said he, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansag had discussed Iran extensively at the three-hour meeting. He indicated they agreed on how to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran - a prospect he called “incredibly dangerous for world peace.”

“We’re on the same page,” he said.

Iran says its nuclear programme is civilian and has defied UN Security Council calls to suspend enrichment, which can be a step towards nuclear arms.

The meeting came just days before EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who was present in Brdo, planned to visit Tehran for fresh talks aimed at changing Iran’s mind.

The two sides also called on the United Nations to investigate alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe, urged Cuba’s new government to free political prisoners and renewed their commitment to protect democracy in Afghanistan.

Standing in the lush green gardens of a castle against the panorama of the Slovenian Alps, Bush and the EU officials sought to display unity to close out the US president’s eighth and last trans-Atlantic summit.

But they failed to bridge differences on how to tackle climate change - a key rift throughout Bush’s presidency.

“Our views are different … for example on the death penalty and on mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, but we are openly discussing these differences and looking for solutions,” said Jansa, whose country is chairing the EU for six months until June 30.

While pledging to work for a new anti-warming pact by 2009 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the two sides said they would pursue the effort “with our respective policies.”

The 27 EU nations have agreed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and EU leaders say the world’s richest countries should lead by example.

Bush stuck to his stance that no deal is possible unless other big emerging economies, where pollution is on the rise, are in the deal.

“Unless China and India are at the table and unless they agree to the goal … then I don’t see how any international agreement can be effective,” he said.

In a signal to Moscow, both sides urged Russia not to interfere in a dispute involving Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia.

“We reiterate our commitment to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and call on all parties, in particular Russia, to support these principles,” the leaders said.

Tension between Tbilisi and Moscow has escalated in recent weeks, in part because of a redeployment of some 400 Russian troops in Abakhazia that raised concern in the West.

The EU and the US also backed Georgia’s recent peace initiatives on Abkhazia as well as efforts by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to draw closer to the West.

The summit Tuesday was mainly aimed at reaffirming trans-Atlantic ties before Bush leaves office in January.

Relations have recovered during Bush’s second term after the deep rift over the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, but distrust of his motives and policies still runs deep on the continent.

Other stops on his eight-day tour of Europe are Germany, France, Italy - including an audience at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI - and Britain.
DPA

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