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Germany

German Leaders Glad Bush Wants To Give More Data To U.N.

U.S. President George W. Bush's address to the nation on Tuesday evening was welcomed by Germany's chancellor, but other politicians in his coalition were not so happy.

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Bush: We will consult, but if Saddam doesn't disarm, we will disarm him.

Germany's top leaders, both critics of the U.S. military buildup against Iraq, greeted on Wednesday President George W. Bush's announcement that he would provide the United Nations with information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"Every bit of information that is available must be put on the table," said Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat.

Schröder's stand was seconded by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a member of the Greens Party. "It will be a welcome turn of events if all information is handed over to the inspectors, as announced, because that can only help their work," Fischer said.

Bush pledges to provide information

The German government's two leading members made their comments after Bush went before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday night to deliver his annual State of the Union address. In his hour-long speech, Bush asserted that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was seeking to "dominate, intimidate or attack" with weapons of mass destruction that he could share with terrorist allies. In the address, Bush also said he would send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations next week to share intelligence on Iraq. Administration officials said the data showed Saddam was concealing chemical and biological weapons from inspectors, and importing technology for long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs.

In light of a new threat, police in Berlin began working on Wednesday to dramatically step up their security of the U.S. and Israeli embassies. The new measures, which include street blockades, were taken after officials in the German capital received a warning from a foreign intelligence service that an attack was possibly being planned, said a spokeswoman for the government in the city-state.

In the political debate, Schröder has already made clear that his government would oppose any resolution in the U.N. Security Council authorizing an attack on Iraq. In response to a reporter's question on Wednesday about whether Germany would be willing to change its position based on the new information, Schröder said, "You can only take a position on information when you have it."

The German doubts about the potential war seemed to be affecting its work in other international organizations. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Germany and France insisted that officials put off a decision on whether the alliance should assist the United States during any war against Iraq, sources said. Among other things, the United States would like to alliance to pledge to protect its member Turkey if the war started and to provide surveillance aircraft to patrol the skies. A decision could be made next Wednesday, the day that Powell will meet with the Security Council.

Social Democrat Criticizes Bush

Unlike Schröder and Fischer, other members of the parties that form the country's governing coalition were critical of Bush's speech. Gernot Erler, the vice chairman of the Social Democratic group in the German parliament, said in a television interview, "It is clear that the American president actually does not want to end a program of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but is dead set on waging war and is looking for justification for his action."

Erler and Angelika Beer, the co-leader of the Green Party, also questioned Bush's motives for pledging to turn over more information to the Security Council. "The question naturally arises: Why wasn't Bush's proof presented to the U.N. long ago?" Beer said in an early morning radio interview.

Erler said he doubted that Bush actually wanted to work with the United Nations. "Why is he withholding this supposed secret information and then planning to pull a rabbit out of his hat next week?" he said.