Bush visit: clash looms over China arms sales
• US rapprochement with EU threatened by row over arms sales to China
• Attempt to lift 1989 arms sales embargo seen as challenge to US interests
• Bush to make concessions on global warming while EU offers help in Iraq
"As both Japan and the US begin to seriously prepare for a real war on the Taiwan Strait, it is simply sickening that European leaders are proposing to take any steps that would help to enable a dictatorship to kill democracy" - Richard Fisher, Washington analyst
Story in full A ROW over European arms sales to China threatens to overshadow George Bush’s "peacemaking" trip to Europe this week - with Tony Blair caught in the middle.
The United States president arrived in Brussels last night for a five-day visit that has been billed by both European and US diplomats as a chance for the two sides to put the bitter dispute over Iraq behind them.
The president today will offer limited concessions over global warming and tonight he will dine with Jacques Chirac, the French president.
Meanwhile, the EU will announce an office in Baghdad to train Iraqi judges.
Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s former US ambassador, predicted amicable talks over Iran even though the US has expressed impatience with EU diplomatic efforts to talk Tehran out of developing nuclear weapons. "The Americans are prepared to give diplomacy a chance," he said.
The issue of military sales to China will be much harder to fudge. The EU, pushed by France, is set to lift an embargo imposed in 1989. US officials including Karl Rove, Mr Bush’s chief of staff, see the EU move as a fundamental challenge to US interests. Mr Bush has promised to defend democratic Taiwan from China.
China claims Taiwan is a renegade province, and Beijing yesterday condemned US support for Taiwan. America’s stance on Taiwan "concerns China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security, and the Chinese government and people firmly oppose it," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Richard Fisher, a prominent Washington analyst and commentator on Chinese affairs, said the EU move was a serious provocation to the president’s pro-democracy agenda.
"As both Japan and the US begin to seriously prepare for a real war on the Taiwan Strait, it is simply sickening that European leaders are proposing to take any steps that would help to enable a dictatorship to kill democracy," said Mr Fisher.
Mr Blair has backed the move to lift the EU sanctions, surprising Americans who had delighted in his steadfast support over Iraq. The Prime Minister will have to reassure the President about the European plan at a private breakfast in Brussels tomorrow.
As well as the potential for tension over the breakfast table, the scene of the main EU-US meeting is also likely to be far from peaceful.
Some 2,500 police officers will guard the Brussels headquarters of NATO and the European Commission. For normal EU summits, only about 1,500 are deployed.
The reason for the reinforcements is the wide range of protesters planning attempts to disrupt the visit.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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