Bush and Merkel promise to work together on Iran crisis

13th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 January 2006, WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday vowed to work together to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran and declared Tehran's ambitions unacceptable.

13 January 2006

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday vowed to work together to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran and declared Tehran's ambitions unacceptable.

"We spent some time talking about the Iranian issue and the desire to solve this issue diplomatically by working together," Bush said during his first press conference with Merkel since she took office.

Merkel on Friday urged the European Union to forge a common position with the United States to confront Iran over the nuclear programme.

"We will certainly not be intimidated by a country such as Iran," Merkel said through a translator.

Merkel's visit at the White House was her first as chancellor and marked what she and Bush hope will be a fresh era in relations between the two countries after a year of turmoil with Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

Merkel has pledged to re-emphasize trans-Atlantic relations, but has also shown a willingness to criticize the Bush administration. Days before travelling to Washington, Merkel said the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for holding detainees in the war on terrorism, should "not exist in the long term".

Merkel used softer language in the White House's East Room. Rather than directly criticizing Guantanamo, she called for reforming international law to address how detainees in the war on terrorism should be held. She suggested the United Nations could be a good forum for doing so.

"What we need to address is how we further want to proceed," Merkel said through a translator.

On Iraq, Merkel assured Bush that stabilizing Iraq was in her country's best interest, pointing to German training of Iraqi security forces and reconstruction.

"In spite of the fact that we don't have troops on the ground there, stability there is in our very own vested interest, and we've shown that through commitments that we've entered on in other areas," Merkel said through a translator.

Under Schroeder, Germany strongly opposed the war in Iraq, angering Bush and sparking a crisis in U.S-German relations. Merkel, while pledging to work more closely with Bush on foreign policy issues, has, like Schroeder, refused to contribute German troops to the peacekeeping effort.

Bush acknowledged the disagreements over Iraq but emphasized the two countries have more in common than they do disputes.

"We've had our disagreements on Iraq, obviously," Bush said. "It's been a difficult issue in our relationship and I fully understand that."

"But in spite of disagreements, we share the desire for the Iraqi people to live in freedom. And I want to thank the German government for help with reconstruction," he added.

DPA

Subject: German news

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