Bush to Visit Latvia, Netherlands, Russia, Georgia

Reuters – Mar 24, 2005 ‹ CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) – President Bush will visit Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia in May to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II and to back democratic changes in former Soviet republics, the White House announced on Thursday.

The White House said in a statement that the May 6-10 trip will include talks with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in Riga, Latvia.

Lithuania and Estonia, which associate the war’s end with Soviet occupation of the Baltic states until 1991, have turned down invitations to visit Moscow for the commemoration. Latvia’s president has announced plans to attend.

Bush will hold bilateral talks in the Netherlands and visit the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten near Maastricht. He will then travel to Moscow to meet with RussianPresidentVladimir Putin and to take part in a World War II ceremony.

Bush will wrap up his trip in Tbilisi, Georgia “to underscore his support for democracy, historic reform, and peaceful conflict resolution,” the White House said. Bush has urges Moscow to abandon two Soviet-era military bases in Georgia since a bloodless revolution brought Western-leaning President Mikhail Saakashvili to power.

Copyright 2005 Reuters News Service.