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Fischer condemns Iraqi bomb attacks

Published on 02/03/2004

2 March 2004

BERLIN – German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer sharply condemned Tuesday the “murderous” bomb attacks in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Karbala on Tuesday, calling it an “act of barbarism”.

“We are horrified by these murderous terror attacks,” Fischer said in Berlin. “This is an act of barbarism which we condemn most sharply.”

Meanwhile Germany assured Jordan that there would be no outside pressure promoting democratic reforms in the Arab world.

Jordanian King Abdullah II received the assurances from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin Tuesday.

Backtracking from assurances made last weekend to US President George W. Bush on the same issue, Schroeder said he is not convinced that outside pressure can be effective.

“Democratization must not be forced upon the region,” Schroeder said after talks with the visiting monarch. “Such a process must rather more come from the region itself.”

A precondition for any such process, he added, must be a return to the negotiating table towards resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The king announced that the Arab League would be formulating a response to the US strategy for modernising the region.

The German leader praised Abdullah’s own efforts, saying Jordan’s reforms should serve as a model for the region.

At the White House last Friday, Bush and Schroeder sought Iraq and pledged to cooperate on the Middle East conflict and the war on terrorism.

Bush and Schroeder said that the United States and Germany would form a “real partnership” to push for democratic change in the Middle East.

The Bush administration is expected to introduce an initiative in June at the G8 summit of the world’s top industrial countries aiming to foster better human rights, freedom of the press and democracy in the troubled region.

“We share this common belief that it’s important to get the structure right in order for free societies to develop,” Bush said.

Schroeder said that it is crucial for the countries to also concentrate on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to foster peace in the Middle East.

“Whenever one pursues a broader outline and a broader approach here,” he said, “one has not to lose sight of the fact that a settlement of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is necessary if one wants to bring peace to this region.”

Schroeder’s visit was his first to the White House since he narrowly won re-election in 2002. The two leaders met twice last year during a gathering at the United Nations in New York and an economic summit in France.

Schroeder made opposition to the Iraq war a centrepiece of his come-from-behind re-election campaign, angering Bush. Germany, France and Russia were among the most vocal opponents to the Iraq war on the UN Security Council, where the US unsuccessfully sought backing for military action.


Subject: German news