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Germany

Germany and US Smooth Over NATO Differences

Despite recent disagreements, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are emphasizing the positive. Rice said she's looking forward to catching Steinmeier on YouTube.

Condoleezza Rice shakes hands with Frank-Walter Steinmeier a joint news conference

"Good luck Frank," said Rice before Steinmeier's ceremonial baseball pitch

In Washington at a joint press conference where no sense of annoyance was felt, Steinmeier and Rice said they discussed a broad range of issues Friday, April 11, including China, Iran, the Middle East and NATO.

Most recently, Germany and the United States had taken opposing sides on whether to invite Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO's membership track and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly annoyed that US President Bush pushed so hard for the two ex-Soviet states to be admitted to the alliance. NATO promised to incorporate the pair eventually.

"Coming out of the Bucharest summit, we have talked some about continuing to develop the alliance," Rice says, referring to the recent NATO meeting in Romania.

"I think looking back on this summit, we found not only reasonable, but forward-looking results," Steinmeier said in his appearance with Rice.

Appeal to China for resolution in Tibet

Dalai Lama

China should talk with the Dalai Lama, said Rice and Steinmeier

Steinmeier and Rice urged China on Friday to open its troubled region of Tibet up to journalists and diplomats and to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, in order to solve the ongoing crisis.

"We have been very concerned about the closed nature of all of this and the lack of transparency," Rice told reporters.

"It's important that journalists be able to get in, it's important that diplomatic personnel be able to get into Tibet so that there can be independent reporting about what's going on there," she said.

The US is considering whether to open a consulate in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa so that American officials can follow development there, added the secretary of state.

Disappointment with Iran

Steinmeier criticized Iran for announcing this week that it expanded its centrifuge assembly to produce enriched uranium at a higher rate.

"We think this is another provocation for the international community and I expect Iran to comply with the demands of the international community," he said through a translator.

Rice urged Tehran to accept the incentives that the UN Security Council has offered if it suspends its nuclear enrichment program and cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The UN Security Council -- made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- plus Germany are set to meet in Shanghai on April 16 to discuss the nuclear dispute with Iran.

Rice criticizes Carter's Hamas visit

The two diplomats also touched on the Middle East peace process during their 45-minute talk and condemned the militant Palestinian group Hamas for hindering negotiations between Palestine and Israel.

Rice implied disapproval of former US President Jimmy Carter's planned meeting with Hamas in Syria.

Sammy Sosa from the Chicago Cubs swings a baseball bat

Can Steinmeier throw a strike?

"I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," said Rice, responding to a question about Carter's plans at the joint press conference with Steinmeier.

Watch for Steinmeier on YouTube

Steinmeier on Saturday is scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in Boston's Fenway Park.

His American counterpart joked that this was a risky undertaking.

"Good luck, Frank," quipped Rice. "I will be looking for the YouTube version of that."

While in Boston, Steinmeier will also give a speech at Harvard University and attend the inauguration of a joint sustainable energy project coordinated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

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