New German coalition wants removal of US warheads

23rd October 2009, Comments 0 comments

A copy of the coalition's new common programme said Germany would support American President Barack Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons.

Berlin -- Germany's new ruling coalition will call for US nuclear weapons to be removed from the country's territory, according to a document seen by AFP.

The precise make-up of the new German government will become known in the coming days, following negotiations between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats.

A copy of the parties' new common programme, which is due to be finalised by the end of the week, said Germany would support US President Barack Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons.

"We will ask the (Atlantic) Alliance and our American allies to withdraw American nuclear weapons from Germany," a copy of the document obtained by AFP said.

International disarmament is one of the Free Democrats' key foreign policy positions, and their leader Guido Westerwelle appears to be after the job of foreign minister in the new administration.

Merkel's Christian Democrats, by contrast, have opposed all mention of US weapons currently on German soil.

Experts believe between 10 and 20 US warheads are currently stored underground in Buchel, in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of southwest Germany.

In 2004, around 130 atomic bombs were removed from the Ramstein air base in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Merkel ditched her previous coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats, following elections on September 27 in favour of a new partnership with the Free Democrats.

Negotiations on a common programme have not been plain sailing, with the two blocs at odds over a range of issues, most notably the deep tax cuts and reforms that the Free Democrats promised in their election campaign.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday she expected coalition talks to reach a conclusion by this weekend.


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