Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 21:01 UK

Bush eyes economy on Europe trip

President George W Bush, 9 June
Oil, Iran and Afghanistan will be key issues for Mr Bush

US President George W Bush has landed in Slovenia at the start of what is expected to be his last European tour, with economic concerns a key issue.

He will attend the annual US-European Union summit, where he is expected to push for a strong US dollar and action on high fuel prices.

He is also expected to seek support for tougher financial sanctions on Iran.

Mr Bush's week-long trip also takes him to Germany, Italy, France, the Vatican and the UK.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu, at the summit venue outside the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, says President Bush landed in the country amid tight security measures but little public celebration.

As EU leaders prepare to bid goodbye, they want to focus on what unites Europe and America, our correspondent says.

But on some key challenges like global warming, no-one is expecting a breakthrough, she says, and the US envoy to the EU has warned Europeans not to have any illusions that the US position will change "magically" with a new president.

Challenges ahead

Ahead of the trip, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel made reference to the possible tensions, telling reporters: "As in all relationships, the EU and US sometimes have different views."

Mr Bush spoke of the work to be done in Afghanistan, ahead of his trip to Europe

Speaking before his departure, Mr Bush said he would be talking about the need to develop new technologies to help reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels.

The cost of oil hit a record high on Friday, coinciding with a dollar slump, plummeting share prices on Wall Street and US unemployment suffering its biggest rise in 20 years.

However, Mr Bush expressed long-term confidence in the US economy, saying it had continued to grow "in the face of unprecedented challenges".

Harder line

The issue of Iran's nuclear programme is also likely to be high on Mr Bush's agenda.

He will seek assurances from EU leaders that they will rigorously implement sanctions approved by the United Nations in April, a US official told Reuters news agency.

The BBC's Rodney Smith says Mr Bush will also seek to apply pressure on individual European businesses to take a harder line on Iranian banks and energy interests.

Barclays Bank, based in the UK, has already responded to US pressure, and ended all dealings with Iran's Saderat Bank and Bank Melli.

Mr Bush's talks with leaders are also expected to focus on aid efforts in Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

First Lady Laura Bush paid a visit to Afghanistan at the weekend, ahead of a donors' conference in Paris this week.

Oil price soars as US woes mount
07 Jun 08 |  Business
Rice defends Bush over Iraq claim
29 May 08 |  Americas
Ex-aide criticises Bush over Iraq
28 May 08 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Sydney Morning HeraldBush begins last Europe tour hoping to keep pressure on Iran - 1 hr ago
Morning Call EU summit is Bush's first stop in Europe - 1 hr ago
KPIX-TV5 Busy Schedule For Bush On Last Europe Trip - 2 hrs ago Bush Pushes Europe to Toughen on Iran in Farewell Tour - 2 hrs ago
Miami HeraldEU summit is Bush's first stop in Europe - 2 hrs ago
* Requires registration

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific