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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Nov 29th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow US and Western Governments arrow Bush, Merkel Reiterate Their Support to Saniora's Government
Bush, Merkel Reiterate Their Support to Saniora's Government PDF Print E-mail
Written by AFP, Naharnet   
Saturday, 10 November 2007

President George W. Bush speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. White House photo by Shealah Craighead
President George W. Bush speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. White House photo by Shealah Craighead

U.S. President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated their support to Premier Fouad Saniora's Government and exchanged views on the current political crisis in Lebanon.

Merkel, during the joint press conference following her meetings with Bush, said that "Germany having a contingent there, serving with the UNIFIL mission, obviously has a very great interest in seeing the situation there stabilizing and progress being made in that country".

"We assured the government of Mr. Saniora of our continued support. We would like to -- for his government to be a strong one, and we think it is in our interests, in both of our interests that this situation remains stable

Bush and Merkel agreed following their talks to pursue a diplomatic end to the Iran nuclear standoff as they worked on a common strategy towards a defiant Tehran.

"The top of my agenda is Iran," Bush said as he and Merkel met on his Texas ranch. "We will continue to work together to solve this problem diplomatically, which means they will continue to be isolated."

After months of increasingly sharp U.S. rhetoric and a new set of U.S. sanctions on the Islamic republic, the chancellor declared: "I'm deeply convinced that the diplomatic possibilities have not yet been exhausted."

Merkel, speaking through an interpreter, said that Iran's refusal to freeze sensitive nuclear work that can lead to having an atomic bomb might require a third round of U.N. sanctions, calling that the "clearest message" to Tehran.

She noted ongoing diplomacy by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and a push by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Enercy Agency (IAEA), to curb the Islamic republic's atomic activities.

If those efforts fail, "then we need to think about further possible sanctions, and we do not only need to think about them but we also have to then talk and agree on further possible sanctions," she said.

Moreover, in the event of such a stalemate, "Germany needs to look somewhat closer at the existing business ties with Iran," she said.

"We need to look, as the situation unfolds, whether we need to have a closer look again at that and possibly need to work together with our German business community, I will talk with them again on further possible reductions of those commercial ties," said Merkel.

But "if the United Nations Security Council were then to announce sanctions, that those would be the clearest message that you can get, can sound, the clearest message that you can convey to Iran," she said.

Merkel was also conciliatory on Afghanistan, saying the United States and its allies "need to do more" to stabilize the strife-torn country but making no mention of a rift with Washington, which has criticized some allies like Germany for restrictions on the deployments of their forces there.

Asked about the political upheaval in Pakistan, Bush said he had no reason not to trust President Pervez Musharraf's promises to lift a state of emergency and return to constitutional rule "as quickly as possible."
"I take a person for his word, until otherwise. I think that's what you have to do. When somebody says this is what they're going to do, then you give them a chance to do it," the president said.

Bush also said that Pakistan would remain a strong ally in the global war on terrorism he declared after the September 11 because both Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a political rival, see al-Qaida as a threat.

"He fully understands the dangers of al-Qaeda. Benazir Bhutto fully understands the dangers of al-Qaida. By far the vast majority of people in Pakistan want to live in a free and peaceful society, and they understand," he said.

"We will continue to have good collaboration with the leadership in Pakistan. My concern is for the Pakistani democracy, for the sake of the Pakistani people, proceeds back on track as quickly as possible," said Bush.

There were also signs of the warm personal relationship between the U.S. president and his guest, who referred to him as "dear George" and praised the ranch as "a very beautiful spot."

"I'm now going to go feed the chancellor a hamburger, right here in Crawford, Texas," Bush said to end the press conference.(Naharnet-AFP) 

Beirut, 10 Nov 07, 22:27


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