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Bush takes aim at missile defense critics

Taking a defiant stand against European critics, President Bush on Thursday defended his views on global warming and accused European leaders of being closed-minded about his plans to develop a missile defense system.

"You know, some people just reject new thought out of hand," Bush said at a joint news conference here with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the first full day of his six-day European tour.

Although Bush acknowledged that he has offered only "vague notions" of how to move beyond Cold War arms control agreements, he said he is "absolutely convinced" that the United States and Russia should scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The agreement limits the testing and development of defense systems that the Bush administration wants to develop.

The president was equally adamant in defending his opposition to the Kyoto treaty on global warming. European leaders hope to persuade Bush to reconsider his views when he joins seven other heads of state from Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia today for a three-day summit in Genoa, Italy.

The Kyoto agreement would commit the United States and other developed countries to strict emissions standards that Bush says would hurt the U.S. economy.

"My job is to represent my country," Bush said. "We want to reduce greenhouse gases. But first things first, as far as I'm concerned. Our strategy must make sure working people in America aren't thrown out of work."

Bush started his European visit on relatively friendly turf. He and his wife, Laura, spent the morning touring London, before joining Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for lunch at Buckingham Palace. The day's stops included visits to the British Museum and former Prime Minister Winston Churchill's top-secret bunker, which British officials used during World War II to escape German bombs.

Bush, who installed a bust of Churchill in the Oval Office earlier this week, lists the former prime minister as one of his heroes.

The Bushes spent the night with Blair's family at Chequers, the prime minister's country home about 40 miles outside of London. The president and the first lady are traveling with Barbara, one of their 19-year-old twins. Daughter Jenna stayed behind because of a summer job.

Downplaying his differences with Bush on global warming, Blair said he remains undecided on missile defense. At the same time, he praised Bush for seeking new approaches on both issues.

Bush noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a similar stance, although Putin has warned Bush that scrapping the ABM treaty could trigger a new arms race.

"It's hard for any country to commit to vague notions," Bush said. "But there are some leaders who just out of hand reject any willingness to think differently about security. And prime minister Blair is not that way."