Election Will Be New Start for Trans-Atlantic Ties, Says Advisor | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 06.02.2008
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Election Will Be New Start for Trans-Atlantic Ties, Says Advisor

Although all the US presidential candidates are likely to demand more of Germany, Berlin could cooperate with any of them regardless of political affiliation, the German coordinator for US relations told Deutsche Welle.

Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama

Germany would be able to work with any of the three leading US candidates, an official said

Karsten Voigt is the coordinator for German-American cooperation at the German Foreign Ministry.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Voigt, who would get the German Foreign Office's vote?

Karsten Voigt: I think that the German government can live and cooperate with any of the candidates, whether it's a Republican or a Democrat. It's obvious that [John] McCain has been in Germany very often. We know him very well; he'll be at the Munich security conference.

Barack Obama

According to a survey, 43 percent of Germans would vote for Obama

As for [Barack] Obama and [Hillary] Clinton -- we also know them, and I think that we could cooperate with them as well.

What do you look for in a US presidential candidate?

There is the foreign policy agenda and the domestic agenda. Both matter. Foreign policy is clear: We want to use the change in the presidency as a starting point to renew the trans-Atlantic alliance. We want to identify common areas where we can cooperate. We've done it in the past in Iran, in the Middle East, in the Balkans. This shows that the areas we're discussing are mostly outside of Europe.

Then there are some global issues -- some are of a military nature, like Afghanistan. Some are of a military and political nature, like international terrorism. And some are more of a social nature, like climate change. Even there, not only the Democratic candidates, where we expected it, but also the front-runner in the Republican race, McCain, are interested in cooperating with us.

John McCain is similar to President George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy. Do you see any problems there?

German troops in Afghanistan

The next US president will demand German troops in southern Afghanistan, said Voigt

We've always had the situation in the trans-Atlantic alliance that we basically agree on fundamental values and interests, but there have always been differences.

The US is a world power and we are a regional power. They have a long tradition of military intervention, while German only concentrated on Central Europe after World War II. We are approaching the new challenges and opportunities in the international arena from two different backgrounds and historical experiences and two different psychologies. But our cooperation is needed and we can do it.

There has been some criticism of the German engagement in Afghanistan. Do you hope for any change there?

The two elements of this debate are clear: Whoever is elected in the US will demand more military presence from Germany in Afghanistan and they will also strive to get Germany to be militarily active in the South.

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