US president leaves Estonia

TALLINN, Nov 28, BNS – US President George W. Bush left Estonia early Tuesday afternoon.

The president’s aircraft, Air Force One, took off slightly after 1 p.m. for Riga where he will attend a NATO summit.

Bush arrived for an official visit in Estonia late on Monday. Earlier today he had meetings with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and people who had shared their experience in other countries. They included former Prime Minister Mart Laar, e-governance promoter Ivar Tallo, former Director-General of the Rescue Board Mati Raidma, policeman Oliver Purik as wsell as Capt. Janno Mark and Master Sgt. Enn Adoson, soldiers who have taken part in foreign missions.

Bush and Ilves gave a joint press conference where the US president confirmed that Estonia is a firm ally of the United States in the war against terrorism.

I appreciate the role of Estonia in NATO and our cooperation in the name of common aims and values, Bush said.

Ilves said the US president’s visit to Estonia proved that Estonia was one of the democratic western countries. Ilves said Estonia together with the United States wanted to help such countries as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia with its experience and influence in the development of democracy.

Changes in NATO, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and other foreign policy issues were touched upon at the press conference and meetings.

President Bush promised that he would raise the issue of visa waiver for Estonian citiznes as soon as possible after returning to the United States.

A working lunch was given in the Estonia opera house in the honor of the US head of state.

It was the first visit by a sitting US president to Estonia.

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