U.S. Seeks to Mend Trans-Atlantic Rift; Danish Leader Eyes 'Common Projects'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

U.S. Seeks to Mend Trans-Atlantic Rift; Danish Leader Eyes 'Common Projects'


Byline: Sharon Behn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The United States is actively looking for ways to improve strained relations with its European partners, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday.

"It is my clear impression that both the [Bush] administration and Congress feel strongly committed to the improvement of trans-Atlantic relations," Mr. Rasmussen said in an interview.

"They asked a lot of questions on how could we improve relations," added the prime minister, who spoke Thursday with President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and leading members of Congress.

Mr. Rasmussen said the idea of "common projects" within the framework of NATO such as in Iraq and in the Middle East had been received with "great interest."

"They responded positively to the suggestions, but without a clear conclusion. There was no firm answer," he said.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is to visit Berlin next week, the highest-level visit to Germany by a Bush administration official since the U.S.-led war to oust Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

Denmark, a member both of NATO and the European Union, was part of the coalition of the willing in Iraq and is taking part in the multinational stabilization force expected to be deployed there soon.

Noting that the bitter split in the U.N. Security Council was reflected in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Mr. Rasmussen called for greater flexibility in the alliance, where currently most decisions require unanimous consent.

"We could consider the notion of coalitions of the willing inside the alliance," he said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday.

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