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German Foreign Minister in Washington for Talks on Iraq

Two days after the United States announced a change of course in its Iraq policy, Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer arrived in Washington to discuss the situation first-hand with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The five-day visit is designed to smooth out some of the friction that surfaced following Germany’s staunch opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and its refusal since then to contribute troops as part of reconstruction efforts. Earlier in the week, the U.S. administration said it planned to hand over the affairs of state to the new Iraqi interim government in June, considerably sooner than initially planned and more in line with Germany and France’s push for a rapid transfer of power. In a nod to this change in direction, the German foreign ministry said, "It’s important that the Iraqi people have prospects." Fischer will be followed later in the week by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who travels to New York for two days of meetings on German-American trade and economic ties.