Merkel travels to Washington for talks with Bush

3rd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 May 2006, WASHINGTON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to arrive in Washington later Wednesday for talks with US President George W Bush about the nuclear dispute with Iran and other topics.

3 May 2006

WASHINGTON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to arrive in Washington later Wednesday for talks with US President George W Bush about the nuclear dispute with Iran and other topics.

Merkel will be making her second trip to Washington since taking office in November as the United States and Germany are trying to develop the best strategy for addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Her visit comes after Britain and France, backed by the United States, proposed a UN Security Council resolution requiring Iran to comply with international demands to come clean on its nuclear activities and halt uranium enrichment.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is purely for energy purposes, while Washington believes it a shield for Iran to pursue atomic weapons.

The United States and the European Union have worked to send a strong message to Iran that it must cooperate with the international community in disclosing its nuclear work, but have faced resistance on the Security Council from veto-wielding powers China and Russia.

Merkel briefed Bush on the telephone last week after her meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is expected to soon travel to China.

The United States, France, and Britain, the other three members of the Security Council who hold a veto, want a Chapter 7 resolution because it allows the council to punish Iran with sanctions, or even military force, if Tehran does not comply.

While supporting the effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Merkel opposes the use of military force, although Bush has not ruled it out.

Merkel has sought to strengthen trans-Atlantic ties following the fallout in US-German relations over former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

The White House largely considers the differences over the conflict as an issue of the past, and, unlike the first meeting between Bush and Merkel in January, see it as an opportunity to work on important issues rather than for the two leaders to become acquainted.

"We're not still in the getting-to-know-you phase," a senior White House official told a group of reporters in Washington.

The White House also praised Merkel for taking a strong stance on Iran and working diplomatically to find a solution to the crisis.

Other topics on the agenda are Hamas' leadership of the Palestinian authority, the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region and US efforts to get NATO to support the peacekeeping effort.

DPA

Subject: German news

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