The United States’ President George W. Bush has welcomed Germany’s overtures for a fresh start, three years after the traditional Cold War allies clashed over using armed force in Iraq. On Angela Merkel’s first visit to Washington as new German Chancellor, Bush strongly endorsed diplomacy as a means of solving international problems. “We talked about Irak and we had our disagreements about Irak, obviously. It’s been a difficult issue in our relationship and I fully understand that. We talked about a lot. And the reason why we talked so much is because we’ve got a lot in common and there are a lot of issues that require our cooperation,” Bush said.
Concern over Iran’s nuclear programme was a main point. The leaders agreed to work together for a solution, and they condemned Tehran’s anti-Israel stance. “We have our differences, notably on the Guantanamo subject,” Merkel said, referring to human rights concerns over suspected terrorist detainees. “We talked about many things but what is good is that we have a relationship in which we can talk about all the problems openly.”
At a press briefing, Bush was asked if he liked the conservative Merkel more than her predecessor, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder. It was a question that raised a laugh. The pair at the White House pledged to move into a new, “intensified” chapter in German-US relations, based on shared Western values.