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U.S. Calls for Germany to Strengthen Armed Forces

The American ambassador to Germany, Daniel Coates, has said the U.S. accepts that Berlin does not want to send troops to Iraq. In an interview on German radio, Coates added that Washington was pleased that Germany did not intend to block a NATO mission to Iraq. Coates' remarks come three days before German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder meets President George Bush in the White House. Coates said the U.S. hoped Germany would strengthen its economy, armed forces and foreign policy so it could shoulder more responsiblity internationally. "Germany is the third largest economy in the world and the biggest country in Europe," Coates said. "We see it as a leading power with which we can be active in Africa, the Middle East and other areas." Germany's refusal to back the U.S.-led war on Iraq led to a chill in relations between Berlin and Washington, and Friday's meeting in the White House is being seen as an opportunity to heal bilateral ties.