Italy, Germany vow to overcome differences

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2005, ROME - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday he expected the appointment of Angela Merkel as Germany's new chancellor would help overcome past differences between Rome and Berlin on foreign policy issues, such as the Iraq war.

20 December 2005

ROME - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday he expected the appointment of Angela Merkel as Germany's new chancellor would help overcome past differences between Rome and Berlin on foreign policy issues, such as the Iraq war.

Greeting the chancellor on her first official visit to Italy, Berlusconi said the two leaders - both leading members of Europe's Group of the European People's Party - shared similar views on the need to establish close ties with the United States.

"We both think of the West as one thing," Berlusconi said, suggesting this common vision would help the two governments "put past divisions, such as on Iraq, behind them".

Unlike the Berlusconi government, which approved of the United States plans to oust Saddam Hussein and has since sent a large contingent to help rebuild the country, Germany under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder strongly opposed military intervention in Iraq.

Addressing reporters before a working dinner with the Italian premier, Merkel spoke of the very warm relations between Italy and Germany, making a reference to the 4 million Italians who emigrated to Germany and helped rebuild her country from the rubble of World War II.

Merkel spoke of the need for Germany and Italy to help kickstart Europe's faltering economy and defend it from "the aggressiveness of the Asian economies". She said the two governments would work together on the fight against terrorism and on immigration.

Merkel had earlier on Monday held talks with Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. A meeting with German-born Pope Benedict XVI was not on the agenda of her one-day visit to Rome.

DPA

Subject: German news

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