President Bush says more must be done to fight poverty in Africa and to help developing countries curb the dangerous emissions that pollute the air and warm the atmosphere. Mr. Bush spoke after talks with Danish leaders on his way to the G8 summit in Scotland.
Aid to Africa and climate change will top the agenda when the leaders of the world's seven richest industrialized democracies and Russia gather in Gleneagles, Scotland. There is agreement on the goals, but trans-Atlantic differences on approach.
On climate change, President Bush stands firm in his opposition to the internationally negotiated Kyoto Protocol to put strict controls on so-called greenhouse gases that pollute the air and warm the atmosphere. He said there should be a greater focus on promoting alternative energy technologies, especially in developing countries. "Kyoto did not work for the United States and it did not work for the world. The reason is many of the developing nations weren't included in Kyoto," he said.
There appears to be more common ground on how to help Africa. President Bush has agreed to the British goal of doubling aid to the continent.
But he opposes the funding method put forward by Britain, and said aid must be tied to economic and political reforms. He said good governance is crucial. "I do not know how we can look our taxpayers in the eye and say this is a good deal to give money to countries that are corrupt. What we are interested in in our countries is helping people. And therefore we have said we will give aid, absolutely, we will cancel debt, you bet, but we want to make sure governments invest in their people," he said.
The president spoke after meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rassmussen, who has defied public opposition in Denmark to stand with the United States on Iraq. Denmark has about 500 troops in Iraq, and the president's visit was a chance to offer his thanks.
When a Danish reporter asked about polls that show most Danes do not agree with the prime minister's Iraq policy, Mr. Bush put the focus on the struggle to bring democracy to the Middle East. "I understand people are not going to agree with decisions I make. But my job is to make decisions that I think are right and to lead. I truly believe we are laying the foundation for peace. I know the only way to defeat this ideology is with a better ideology based upon freedom and human rights," he said.
Mr. Bush said the Danes are advancing freedom, which he referred to as a universal right. Prime Minister Rasmussen agreed. "We do not accept the thesis that certain peoples and nations are not yet ready for democracy and therefore better suited for dictatorship. We share the belief that freedom is universal. And we share the belief that in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, you cannot stay neutral," he said.
This was the fifth meeting between the two leaders, and it began in a rather unusual way - with a birthday serenade for Mr. Bush from a Danish ceremonial band.
There will be several royal celebrations on the president's 59th birthday - first in Denmark with Queen Margrethe, and later in the day in Scotland where Britain's Queen Elizabeth will host a private dinner for the G8 leaders.