President Bush left Sweden today and arrived in Warsaw, Poland, where he is expected to make a major speech outlining his vision for Europe.
Today's big presidential address in the former Eastern Bloc country will set up what is considered his most important stop on his European tour: The Slovenian capital of Ljubljana where he will have his first face-to-face meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man who has been publicly suspicious of American motives.
But prior to meeting with Polish officials, Bush took some time out of his schedule, and made a statement that praised the Senate for passing education legislation on Thursday that will require annual math and reading tests for millions of school children.
The 91-8 vote in the Senate set the stage for a summer of negotiations on a final compromise among the White House, the GOP-controlled House and the Senate, newly under Democratic management.
"It is a piece of legislation that will reform public education in America," President Bush said prior to leaving from Sweden at a press conference. "I can truly say that no child in our country will be left behind."
White House officials say that the president is not expected to talk further on this, and he is expected to concentrate mainly on foreign relations issues.
Bush will also do what his father and other recent American presidents have done: Place wraths at Polish monuments to the 3 million Jews put to death by the Nazis, and to heros who resisted.
‘Agreed to Disagree’
President Bush and European leaders "agreed to disagree" over a global warming treaty on Thursday, as the president sought to reassure allies sharp policy differences would not hamper relations between Europe and the United States.
During the closed-door session, Bush and his European counterparts confronted one of their most contentious areas of disagreement: the president's rejection of the Kyoto Accord on global warming.
"We agreed to disagree," Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson told reporters. "The European Union is sticking to the Kyoto Protocol … The U.S. has chosen another policy."
Bush announced his decision not to support ratification of the 1997 climate change agreement in March and repeated the reasons for his decision Thursday.
The president's refusal to support ratification of the treaty has been a major source of tension between the U.S. and Europe. Bush's critics overseas say the president's opposition shows a willingness to put narrow domestic economic considerations ahead of global environmental concerns. They also claim his lack of consultation with allies before making his decision was an indication of a unilateralist approach to foreign policy — a notion the president is trying to dispel on this weeklong tour.
"People in our nation care about global warming and greenhouse emissions," he said. "[But,] we didn't feel like the Kyoto treaty was well-balanced … It didn't include developing nations; the goals were not realistic."
Administration officials have pointed to the fact that none of the EU's members have yet ratified the treaty to suggest their leaders' criticisms of Bush's decision are somewhat disingenuous. But the president declined to question the motives of European leaders, saying the matter was a "genuine" difference of opinion and not one "necessarily" based on "politics."
On Saturday, the main topic of discussion is expected to be about missile defense. Putin is staunchly opposed to the president's plans and has warned that developing the kind of weapons systems envisioned by Bush would mean the abrogation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.