Fischer calls for unity on Iran; talk with Rice

26th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 January 2005, WASHINGTON - The United States and Europe must work together for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said during a visit to Washington. Fischer's comments came after a 90-minute meeting with secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice at the White House, his first since President George W. Bush named his national security adviser to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell. The American and European positions on Iran


26 January 2005

WASHINGTON - The United States and Europe must work together for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said during a visit to Washington.

Fischer's comments came after a 90-minute meeting with secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice at the White House, his first since President George W. Bush named his national security adviser to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The American and European positions on Iran are "not far apart", Fischer said.

Iran has denied US accusations that it is using its nuclear programme to build weapons, but the United States has threatened to take the issue to the UN Security Council if Iran does not better cooperate with international inspections.

The Germans opposed a referral during a gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors last year.

Fischer met with Powell at the State Department before heading over to the White House as the Senate debated Rice's nomination to be the top US diplomat. She was expected to easily be confirmed when the Senate votes on Wednesday despite strong objections by some opposition Democrats.

Since his re-election in November, Bush has pledged to restrengthen relations with key traditional allies like Germany and France. The two countries, along with Russia, opposed the Iraq war and lobbied against UN Security Council support for it, triggering a diplomatic rift in trans-Atlantic relations.

Fischer said Rice did not urge a greater role for Germany in assisting Iraq. Before meeting with Rice, Fischer told reporters that Europe is not obligated to make more financial contributions to Iraq despite the rising cost for the Americans.

Europe has already made significant donations and Germany is also helping by training Iraqi police and providing humanitarian assistance, Fischer said.

His comments came as the Bush administration prepared to ask Congress for an additional 80 billion dollars in supplemental funding for the ongoing fiscal year for the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

Fischer did not make a public appearance with Powell or Rice as the transition at the top of the State Department was not completed, but Fischer did speak with reporters.

Fischer's visit was preceded by one from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The United States and European Union have been at odds over an EU intention to lift an arms embargo on China.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher would not say whether the issue arose during Fischer's discussion with Powell but repeated US objections to ending the ban over human rights concerns.

"We are opposed to the lifting of the embargo as a general principle because of human rights concerns," Boucher said. "It sends the wrong signal."

Senate Democrats managed to delay a vote last week on Rice's nomination to express reservations about Bush's choice.

They challenged Rice's candidness in discussing the problems in Iraq and for statements leading up to the war that alleged Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was the Bush administration's main reason for going to war.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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