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  Words in the News

As President George W. Bush prepared to meet NATO heads of State and Government, there was unease among NATO members about his missile defence plans. BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus sent this report before the meeting at NATO's headquarters in Brussels.

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Nato flag

13th June 2001

President Bush visits NATO

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In an age of smart missiles and precision-guided weaponry President Bush is going to have to rely upon good old-fashioned charm if he is to win over America's sceptical NATO allies. There's a growing mood of transatlantic tension, both real and imagined; a feeling that European capitals and Washington no longer view the world in quite the same way. The Bush team has spoken with a number of different accents in the security field: Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasising, as one US newspaper editorial put it, that the allies should simply fall into line behind the US, while Secretary of State Colin Powell has stressed Washington's desire for consultation and discussion.

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good old-fashioned charm: simple, traditional politeness

to win over: if you win someone over to your point of view you persuade them that you are right through friendly argument.

a growing mood
: afeeling which is steadily getting stronger

transatlantic tension
: tension which exist between countries on either side of the Atlantic Ocean - in this case between America and Europe.

: accents here is a diplomatic way of saying different statements or views.

fall into line
: a military idiom used here to mean ‘conform’

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to the second part of the report
    Missile defence has become the issue that crystallises these US-European tensions, but there are many other problems ahead, ranging from the European Union's growing interest in defence, to NATO expansion and the crisis in the Balkans. President Bush is likely to stress that the growing US strategic role in Asia will not compromise America's fundamental interests in NATO. He may well stress his desire to see European allies do more in the defence field. Such an improvement in capabilities is the sweetener that makes the EU's defence efforts tolerable in American eyes.
    Audio Listen to the words

crystallises: when an opinion, idea or issue crystallises it becomes fixed in people’s minds

growing interest: increasing involvement with

is likely to stress
: the phrase illustrates that the report is speculative because it was written before the actual meeting - ‘to stress’ here means to emphasise

the sweetener
: something that you give to someone to persuade them to do something they do not want to do

: if something is tolerable it is acceptable or bearable but not pleasant or good

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

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