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Germany

Germany in Brief

Government coalition parties meet for talks; tens of thousands turn out for Berlin gay and lesbian parade and 32 teams will play in the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany.

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Retreat in Neuhardenberg: Coalition party leaders got away from the capital to talk turkey


Cabinet and coalition parties retreat for talks

The German government and other leading Social Democrat and Green Party members reconvened in Neuhardenberg Palace near Berlin on Saturday to continue talks about the 2004 budget. The participants approved Finance Minister Eichel's recent budget proposal for 2004. They also discussed pushing forward by one year tax cuts planned for 2005 to help jumpstart the depressed German economy. The government would have to make up for losses of €18 billion in tax revenues. Leading opposition Christian Democrat politicians have said the losses could not be offset and have rejected the plans. Pundits expect the government to decide in favor of the changes on Sunday. On Friday evening, Luxemburg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, addressed the politicians at Neuhardenberg. He called on them not to become preoccupied with domestic worries and stressed that it was important for Europe that Germany was economically vital. The talks in Neubrandenburg are scheduled to continue through Sunday.

Berlin mayor kicks off Christopher Street Day Parade

Ten thousands of people celebrated Christopher Street Day (CSD), originally a demonstration for gay and lesbian rights, for the 25th year in Berlin on Saturday. Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, opened the parade and called for more tolerance and an end to discrimination against homosexuals. Wowereit, who is openly gay himself, and his partner rode at the front of the 80 floats that traveled through the city's western center. Some 60,000 people took part in the parade, organizers said. The parade's motto was "Acceptance instead of Tolerance." CSD pays tribute to demonstrations that took place in New York City in 1979, ten years after police raided the local gay bar "Stonewall" on Christopher Street. The celebrations take place in around 30 German towns and in numerous countries each year.

32 teams will play in German Soccer World Cup in 2006

The international soccer association FIFA decided on Saturday in Paris 32 teams will play in the Soccer World Cup in Germany in 2006. The FIFA executive committee rejected a bid from the South American confederation CONMEBOL to increase the number of teams to 36. German organizers welcomed the decision. Sports functionaries were concerned that adding four more teams would create difficult logistical and organizational problems. The soccer championships in 2010, which will take place in Africa, will also be restricted to 32 teams.

Compiled with material from wire services.