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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

04 May 2006

Bush, Meeting with Merkel, Says Allies "Won't Fold" Against Iran

President to visit Germany in July on way to G8 summit in Russia

By Vince Crawley
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – President Bush, meeting at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Iranian leaders cannot drive a wedge between the United States and world allies who all seek to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“The Iranians must understand that we won’t fold, that our partnership is strong, that for the sake of world peace they should abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions,” Bush told reporters May 3. He said he plans to visit Germany, at Merkel’s invitation, on his way to the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) nations in July in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The G8 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.

It was the two leaders’ second meeting at the White House.  Merkel came to Washington in January, two months after being elected chancellor. (See related article.)

In their joint news conference May 3, both Bush and Merkel stressed the importance of using diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Bush said the international partnership placing diplomatic pressure on Iran includes the so-called EU-3 – European Union members France, Germany and Great Britain – as well as Russia and others.

France and the United Kingdom on May 3 introduced a draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would require Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program and set the stage for sanctions if Tehran fails to comply. (See related article.)

“It’s very important that the international community send a clear message to the Iranians that a nuclear weapon is unacceptable,” Bush said.

Merkel, speaking through an interpreter, said the United States and Germany “are in total agreement, saying that under no circumstances must Iran be allowed to come into possession of nuclear weapons.”

Both Bush and Merkel stressed that the international community in involved in a multi-step diplomatic process. “We will continue to consult with our partners as to how to achieve a diplomatic solution to this issue,” Bush said. “We will come to a common agreement as to how to proceed, because this is a common effort.”

Merkel added that she considers it “crucial” to avoid actions that would “pre-empt” the diplomatic process. “I really to do think,” she said, “that … in order to pursue this diplomatic process successfully, we need to pursue this one step at a time.”

In their talks, Bush and Merkel also discussed business and economic issues, including the looming deadline for the Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. (See related article.)

Bush has had cordial relations with Merkel, who was elected in 2005, becoming Germany’s first chancellor from the former communist-dominated East Germany. East and West Germany united in October 1990 after popular uprisings in October and November 1989 overran the Berlin Wall that had kept East Germans from visiting the West.

Bush said he considers Merkel “a very sophisticated leader who knows what it’s like to live in a world that isn’t free … who knows the discomfort of what it means to live under the iron hand of a communist ruler.”

Merkel said she invited Bush to Germany in July “partly because I wanted to show him around and show him a little bit of what has been achieved in what we call the New Länder [the German states that once formed East Germany], to get to know also people who, like me, lived on the other side of that Wall.”

The transcript of Bush and Merkel’s meeting with reporters is available on the White House Web site.

For more information on the upcoming G8 summit, see Group of Eight.

For information on U.S.-European relations, see Europe and Eurasia.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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