President George W Bush said tonight he hoped the Irish people understood that the events in Abu Ghraib were not typical of the American policy or people.

But Mr Bush, spealing exclusively to RTÉ News, rejected the idea that the world was less safe because of US policy in Iraq.

Mr Bush was interviewed in Washington for Prime Time prior to his Irish visit by Carole Coleman, RTÉ's Washington Correspondent

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, told the Dáil earlier that the war against terror and the situation in Iraq will be among the subjects for discussion at Saturday’s EU-US summit at Dromoland Castle.

Mr Cowen said while there would be full and frank exchanges on issues where there was disagreement, it was important that any discussions be open ones.

Officials said earlier that the main message from the summit would be an economic one, which would agree a declaration of partnership between the world's two largest markets.

Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell said it was right that the summit should be held in Ireland, insisting it would have been a terrible reflection on this country had it been held in Brussels as some had wanted.

However, he maintained that the Taoiseach should have made arrangements for opposition leaders to meet US President George W Bush to put the concerns of Irish people about Iraq directly to him.

Cowen & Powell to sign satellite agreement

Mr Cowen and US Secretary of State Colin Powell are also to sign an agreement allowing the establishment of a European satellite navigation network.

Negotiations to ensure the Galileo system would be compatible with the existing US network have been underway for a number of years.

Galileo will involve up to 30 European satellites, and is intended to provide a civilian commercial Global Positioning System.