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Germany

Wulff says Europe must show 'courage' in backing Arab uprisings

German President Christian Wulff Saturday called for Europe to show more 'courage and resolve' in supporting political change across the Arab world. He was speaking at the start of a three-day visit to Kuwait and Qatar.

German President Christian Wulff

Wulff will be walking a diplomatic tight rope in the Gulf states

At the start of a three-day visit to the Gulf nations of Kuwait and Qatar, German President Christian Wulff urged Europe to redouble efforts to support pro-democracy uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

"Don't miss the boat on (fulfilling) the expectations on Europe in this hour," Wulff said in an appeal to EU member states to back people's movements in Arab countries.

Wulff spoke of the "dawn of a new era in Europe's immediate neighborhood," adding that it could lead to permanent stability in the Arab world. He added that Germany could play a role in helping the region open up to greater democracy.

"Europe must prove its capacity to take action and make constructive offers," Wulff said, adding that Germany's offers of assistance to Tunisia and Egypt also encouraged popular protest movements in other countries.

On Saturday, the president joined in celebrations marking the 20 years since Kuwait's liberation from an invasion by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. He arrived after a military parade for talks with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other state guests.

Kuwait has remained relatively calm after the emir gave citizens up to $3,600 (2,600 euros) - officially to celebrate the country's independence - after uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt led to the toppling of regimes there.

Visit amid political upheaval

Wulff's visit comes at a sensitive time for several Gulf leaders, with many uncertain of their hold on power in the months to come as popular uprisings rock the Arab world.

Wulff passed a damning verdict on the events in Libya before departing, branding leader Moammar Gadhafi a "psychopath."

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah with former German President Horst Köhler

The Kuwaiti Sheikh visited the German capital early last year

"He is terrorizing his own people [...] It's terrorism by the state. That seems to be the approach, which one can call psychopathic."

Wulff continues his trip to Qatar later on Saturday, where Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is looking to win over an international audience through a series of careful political reforms.

Qatar has strong economic ties with Germany. Wulff is no stranger to the Qatari leadership, after having helped broker the oil-rich state's purchase of a 17-percent stake in German carmaker Volkswagen. Wulff sat on the VW board in his previous role as state premier of Lower Saxony.

Qatar also owns shares in German building company Hochtief, and the German state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn plans to oversee development of a train network ahead of the 2022 Soccer World Cup.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (dpa, dapd)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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