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Germany

Germany Offers Iraq Support, But No Troops

In meetings with top U.S. officials, Germany's foreign minister offered humanitarian and economic aid toward the rebuilding of Iraq, but repeated that no German soldiers will be sent there.

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Colin Powell (right) and Joschka Fischer (left) show signs of reconciliation in Washington.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will wrap up his four-day U.S. tour on Thursday with a meeting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Talk is expected to focus on the situation in Iraq, but it will also likely touch on the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran.

These same issues were on the agenda when Fischer met late Wednesday with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Germany makes an offer

In his meeting with Powell, Fischer made it clear that because Europeans and Americans have a "joint interest" in stability in the region, Germany would offer humanitarian and economic assistance toward the rebuilding of Iraq.

But he stuck to his government's line that the country wouldn't even consider sending soldiers unless there is a clear UN mandate to do so.

"I think the relevant Security Council Resolution 1483 (which provided a mandate for nations to send forces to bring stability to Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime was ousted in April) made it quite clear that the responsibility on the ground is in the hands of the coalition," Fischer said following his meeting with Powell.

Business at the ready

"We are not part of the coalition, but we are ready to improve the humanitarian situation. Our business community is ready to play its role in the reconstruction, if it is warranted and if we know more details about the reconstruction. We are open to discuss what could be our role in the reconstruction, but our position linked to the question of sending military troops is unchanged," Fischer added.

For his part, Powell said he had not specifically demanded that Germany contribute to the Iraq rebuilding process during the course of their meeting. Rather, he had given Fischer an overview of the current situation in the region. In addition, the two "friends" discussed the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, Iran and North Korea.

Powell: No resolution needed

Following the meeting, Powell said he saw no grounds for a new UN resolution that would involve further countries in the administration and the rebuilding of Iraq. He conceded, however, that Germany was not alone in demanding that the United Nations be granted a stronger role in the rebuilding of Iraq.

The United States is currently discussing how to deal with the situation, Powell said.

Antidote found?

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice

Fischer also met with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (photo). At the height of U.S.-German discord last autumn, Rice described the relationship between the two countries as "poisoned."

The tide has clearly turned in recent weeks. On Wednesday Fischer described Berlin-Washington ties as "excellent." But does that mean all is forgiven between Berlin and Washington?

"It's not about forgiveness or anything like that. Those aren't political categories," Fischer said. Instead, the pair spoke about bringing the strategic security debate between the U.S. and Europe into gear.

Previously during his visit, Fischer called for further steps toward building up a new Iraqi government. In an interview earlier this week with the U.S. public broadcaster PBS, Fischer said the newly appointed Governing Council in Iraq was a "step in the right direction."

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