Thursday, February 24, 2005

US and Germany bury differences

Bush's visit Wednesday to the city of Mainz in southern Germany provoked a range of emotions across the country. But the one most evident was a sense of resignation. Germans turned out by the hundreds of thousands to protest the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. They stewed in anger as the war was fought and were bewildered at Bush's reelection in November. (LA Times)

President Bush of course is not the first president named Bush to come to this town on the Rhine, but the very physical circumstances of this president's stopover here on Wednesday suggest how different, how less automatically warm, German-American relations are now than they were when his father stopped in Mainz 16 years ago. Most conspicuous was the lack of contact between ordinary Germans and an American president visiting what could almost have been a stage setting: a town with buildings but no people, the shops and restaurants in the center of town closed, and only uniformed police officers on the streets. Compare that with the main event of the first President Bush's trip here in 1989: a speech to an enthusiastic audience of 3,500 people gathered in a flag-draped hall, thrilling to Mr. Bush's declaration that Germany and America are more than "firm allies and friends," they are "partners in leadership." (NY Times)

US President George W. Bush and Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, yesterday promised to work together on an environmental programme in a carefully choreographed effort to enforce a spirit of reconciliation at their summit. The result was a meeting in Mainz which avoided inflaming old animosities, but only just. The programme seeks to promote "joint activities with the aim of improving environmentally friendly and efficient technologies", as well as measures to "combat air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our countries and worldwide". Mr Schröder said the climate action plan was a "practical step to reduce climate damage", but accepted that Berlin and Washington still had "different views" on the Kyoto climate protection protocol. The US still refuses to ratify Kyoto, preferring to invest in alternatives to fossil fuels. Although the chancellor offered to increase support for the training of Iraqi officials, a central US demand, he insisted it would continue to take place outside Iraq.
The two leaders avoided the issue of Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council because Mr Bush had signalled that he was unwilling to speak out publicly in Berlin's favour, according to a German government official familiar with the contents of yesterday's talks. (Financial Times)

The US president, George Bush, and Germany's chancellor Gerhard Schröder yesterday put an end to an era of bitterness over Iraq when they pledged to work together on a range of international issues including climate change and Iran. During his first visit to Germany since the Iraq war, President Bush yesterday held talks with Mr Schröder in the picturesque Roman garrison town of Mainz on the banks of the Rhine. Speaking after the meeting Mr Bush praised Germany's "vital" contribution to training Iraqi policeman. He said he "fully understood" Mr Schröder's "limitations" - his refusal to send troops to Iraq. Mr Schröder said Germany and the US had finally buried their differences. "Nobody wants to conceal that we had different opinions ... but that is the past," he said. Speaking in Mainz's baroque electoral palace, as snow fell outside, President Bush appeared to rule out the possibility of an immediate pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. He stressed instead that "diplomacy was just beginning" with steps being taken by Britain, France and Germany. (Guardian)

IT WAS neither a love-in nor a bust-up. George W. Bush and Gerhard Schröder found a third way during the American President’s nine-hour visit to Germany yesterday — an agreement to disagree amicably and, where possible, in private. “We have agreed that we are not going to constantly emphasise where we’re not agreeing,” the German Chancellor said. “We want to focus on where we do agree.” Not all Herr Schröder’s compatriots agreed. Thousands of his countrymen marched through the centre of Mainz carrying banners reading “Warmonger” and “No 1 Terrorist”. Nor did the two leaders display the same affection for each other that Mr Bush’s father and Helmut Kohl exhibited when they took a boat ride down the Rhine from Mainz in 1989. However, the two men did set aside the bitterness caused by the Iraq war and by what Mr Bush saw as Herr Schröder’s personal betrayal during the 2002 German election campaign, when he fanned his country’s anti-Americanism to boost his own appeal. (Times)

Los Angeles Times, CA:,1,103759.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true
New York Times:
Financial Times, UK:, UK:,2763,1424090,00.htmlTimes Online, UK:,,3-1497758,00.html


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