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Bush Schroeder Focusing on Agreement

  • VOA News

At the end of their formal talks in Mainz, President Bush and Chancellor Schroeder issued a joint warning to Tehran. They said there must never be a nuclear armed Iran. During a joint news conference, Mr. Bush spoke in blunt terms,"It is vital that the Iranians hear the world speak with one voice that they should not have a nuclear weapon." The president then set out to clarify a statement he made Tuesday in Brussels that while the United States has no plans to invade Iran, all options are on the table. This time, he put the focus on the diplomatic efforts of Germany, France, and Britain. "Iran is not Iraq. We have just started the diplomatic efforts, and I want to thank our friends for taking the lead and I will - we will work with them to convince the mullahs that they need to give up their nuclear ambitions." The two leaders also made clear they support the move to democracy in Iraq, despite their split over the wisdom of the Iraq war. Chancellor Schroeder - one of the biggest critics of the March 2003 invasion - said it is time to focus on the future. He spoke through a translator. "And now our joint interest is that we come to a stable, democratic Iraq."

This is the president's first visit to Germany since the start of the war in Iraq. Polls show public sentiment against his policies remains fairly strong and there are lingering resentments. When he arrived in this west German city he found a town blanketed in both light snow and heavy security. Streets were virtually empty, with few people other than police in sight. Nearby highways were shut down, and the stretch of the Rhine river that flows through the city was closed to traffic. Protestors were kept away from the city center and the Bush entourage. But they gathered in other parts of town. The president never heard the protestors, but he did hear the cheers of U.S. troops stationed at the nearby Wiesbaden Army Airfield. Many of them have served in Iraq and are heading back again. "Your success is sending a clear message throughout the Middle East that the only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror and replace hatred with hope is the force of human freedom." It was not his first contact of the day with American soldiers. There were 20 special guests at the official welcoming ceremony at an 18th century castle in Mainz: 10 Americans and 10 Germans who have been deployed in Afghanistan. The soldiers - wearing almost identical caps - were a visible symbol of an area in which Germany and the United States are working together.

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