གཟའ་ཉི་མ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༦

Bush Discusses Iraq with German Leader

President Bush is in Germany for talks with one of the biggest critics of the Iraq war, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. They put aside their differences on Iraq and issued a joint message to Iran.

This is the president's first trip to Germany since the start of the Iraq war almost two years ago.

Gerhard Schroeder opposed the U.S.-led invasion, and the split between the chancellor and the president has been described as deep and personal.

But like the other NATO and EU leaders who met with Mr. Bush earlier this week in Brussels, Chancellor Schroeder is now talking about new beginnings, saying it is time to put past differences aside and move on.

He described the change this way:

"We have agreed that we are not going to completely emphasize where we are not agreeing, that we want to focus on where we do agree," the president said.

All the same, the German leader has left no doubt that he has lingering reservations about the ongoing coalition military operation in Iraq. While Germany has said it is willing to help train Iraqi security forces, no German troops will serve in that country. They will conduct their training activities elsewhere.

President Bush says the German contribution is sufficient.

"I appreciated your kind words about Iraq and the need to put past differences behind us and focus on the people of that country," he said.

At a joint news conference, both men focused on a shared goal. They said they will not tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons.

President Bush thanked Germany for its efforts - along with France and Britain - to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear development program. Tehran says the program is strictly for civilian use, but the United States has openly questioned why an oil-rich country would need nuclear power.

Mr. Bush then sought to clarify a statement he made Tuesday in Brussels - that the notion the United States plans to attack Iran is ridiculous, but all options are open. It was a statement that raised eyebrows in Germany.

"But I also reminded people that diplomacy is just beginning. Iran is not Iraq!" he stressed.

The talks in this city on the Rhine River also focused on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the environment. The two leaders said they would work together to find ways to deal with air quality issues outside the confines of the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States has refused to endorse.

The visit - which was scheduled to last about 10 hours - attracted protesters to the Mainz area. They were barred from the city center, where streets were empty, and the police presence was strong.