Clinton in Europe

PRESIDENT Clinton's grand tour of Europe, while by no means only a string of successes, has accomplished important goals and set solid building blocks for the future.

The president applied his familiar energy and enthusiasm to strengthening the transatlantic ties that form the core of world stability. Much of the talk and action was economic, Clinton's familiar domestic theme. But that is understandable on a continent where, with the glaring exception of war in Bosnia, economic issues dominate.

Not that the majority of issues were met; most weren't. At the G-7 meeting, no progress was made on trade disputes with Japan, in part because of the illness of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. No help was offered for Rwanda. And other distractions - the death of North Korea's Kim Il Sung, the dollar's plunge, and new provocations from Haiti's military junta - may have kept a sharper focus from developing.

Mr. Clinton appeared to fumble when his idea for ``Goals 2000,'' a follow-on to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was shot down by the French. And he failed to prod President Boris Yeltsin to promise that all Russian troops would be out of the Baltic countries by Aug. 31.

Among accomplishments at the G-7 summit were a promise to support the Bosnia peace plan, a commitment from each member to ratify GATT, a call on Arab nations to end their boycott of Israel, aid for economically troubled Ukraine (tied to reforms there), and agreement to invest in education and worker training.

At a separate later meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Clinton sought to reinforce the notion of a special relationship between Germany and the US and expressed complete comfort with a German court ruling allowing German troops to serve overseas as part of international peacekeeping.

One of Clinton's tasks now will be to convince the British that the longstanding Anglo-American ``special relationship'' remains unaffected.

The greatest G-7 accomplishment may be the continued harmonious meeting of the world's top industrial powers (four European nations, the US, Canada, and Japan). The US president has added an air of informality and impromptu discussion that has been lacking in what have been highly orchestrated meetings.

The Naples, Italy, meeting clears the way for next year's G-7 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to set a more ambitious goal: outlining ``what we want the world to look like 20 years from now,'' in Clinton's words. His European tour took steps in the right direction.

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