US President George W. Bush has told a German paper that Germany plays a decisive role in the war on terrorism and that Chancellor Angela Merkel's actions on the Iranian nuclear issue had been key.
Merkel and Bush seem to be getting along
Asked whether Americans felt Germans had deserted them during the war in Iraq, Bush said in an interview with German Sunday tabloid Bild am So n n tag that he had finally realized that Germans were fundamentally opposed to war.
"No to war," reads the sign carried by Berlin students during a 2003 demonstration
"It's in the nature of the German people to loathe war," Bush said, according to the German translation of the interview. "The Germans just don't like war -- no matter where they are in terms of the political spectrum. I can understand that. There's a generation of people, whose lives were completely thrown out of balance because of a horrible war."
Bush added that Germany was nevertheless playing a decisive role in the war on terror.
"When the chancellor stands up and says that the war against terror has to be won and that it's important for the safety of our countries, people around the world listen," Bush said, adding that the US was maintaining close relations with Germany and its secret services and police were liaising regularly.
Total agreeme n t o n Ira n
Bush said Merkel had taken a strong stance on the Iranian nuclear question, adding that it was very important for the Iranians to know that Germany was cooperating with other countries to send a clear message to Tehran.
Bush said Iranian President Ahmadinejad's threats had to be taken seriously
The German chancellor said in a meeting with Bush on May 4 in the US capital that Berlin and Washington were in "total agreement" over preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but that it was "crucial" to develop the widest possible international agreement on the issue.
Merkel also warned against a hasty response to the crisis, urging a step-by-step approach.
In the interview, Bush said that he believed a diplomatic solution to the crisis was possible.
"I want your readers to know that I wish and believe that we can solve this diplomatically," he said, adding later that all options had to remain on the table, however.
The international community is engaged in intense diplomatic debate over how to respond to Iran's categoric refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the process creating fuel for nuclear reactors and -- potentially -- the core of an atomic bomb.
Growi n g relatio n ship
Asked whether he had any particular requests for his visit to Merkel's constituency on the Baltic Sea coast in eastern Germany, Bush said that he appreciated the chancellor's desire to show him the former communist part of the country.
"She believes that it's important for me to visit the former GDR," he said, adding that the two leaders had already swapped family stories during a private lunch in the White House.
Bush and Merkel in Washington on May 3
"Interestingly enough, she first told me about her mother and her father," he said. "I learned a lot about her as a person because of it."
And asked to name the worst and best moments of his presidency, Bush mentioned Sept. 11, 2001 and catching a 7.5-pound perch respectively.
Bush also sat down with German talk show host Sabine Christiansen for a 30-minute interview last week to be shown on German public broadcaster ARD Sunday night.