Merkel Crawford visit shows improved relations

10th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 November 2007 , Berlin (dpa) - President George W Bush's private invitation to Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit him at his ranch at Crawford in Texas this weekend is confirmation of the improved relations between the United States and Germany. The visit is a first - the first such invitation to Merkel, and the first to a German chancellor under the Bush presidency. Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, used his strong opposition to the looming US-led war in Iraq war to squeak home to re-election in 2

9 November 2007

Berlin (dpa) - President George W Bush's private invitation to Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit him at his ranch at Crawford in Texas this weekend is confirmation of the improved relations between the United States and Germany.

The visit is a first - the first such invitation to Merkel, and the first to a German chancellor under the Bush presidency.

Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, used his strong opposition to the looming US-led war in Iraq war to squeak home to re-election in 2002 - and Bush never forgave him.

Merkel's conservative politics in any case dovetail better with a Republican presidency than those of the social democrat Schroeder.

The chancellery in Berlin said the two leaders would exchange views on current international topics.

It mentioned the Middle East peace process, the nuclear dispute with Iran, the situation in Darfur, the final status of Kosovo and the struggle against international terrorism.

The crisis in Pakistan can be added to that list, where the two leaders are certain to call for a return to constitutional rule.

There is also broad agreement on the need to secure and develop Afghanistan, although the US would prefer German troops based in the relatively peaceful north to take a more active combat role.

Among other issues that could come up over two days of talks are the controversial US interceptor missiles planned for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Germany is wary of the plans and has taken a wait-and-see attitude, urging that Russian concerns be taken into account. The suspension by Russia in July of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) is being taken seriously in Europe.

On climate change - a theme Merkel has put at the top of the Group of Eight Agenda during the German presidency this year - the two leaders are far apart but have been careful not to air their differences in public thus far.

Berlin has billed the visit as a return gesture for Merkel's invitation to the Bushs to visit her in Trinwillershagen in her constituency on the north-east German coast in the summer of 2006.

That meeting, where an entire wild boar was grilled and consumed by the leaders and their entourages, is still seen in Germany as marking a new beginning after the Schroeder years.

In being invited to Crawford, Merkel - who is to be accompanied by her husband Joachim Sauer, a professor of chemistry at Berlin's Humboldt University - treads in the footsteps of a select few foreign leaders like former British prime minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other European leaders have been less fortunate. France's Jacques Chirac - another opponent of the Iraq invasion - had cool relations with Bush and received no invitation, although the two presidencies overlapped for more than six years.

His successor, President Nicolas Sarkozy, has received a private invitation, although only to lunch in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The US president's focus is on Europe this week, with his meeting with the German chancellor following his talks on Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and meeting scheduled on Tuesday with Sarkozy.

DPA

Subject: German news

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