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The BBC's Rob Broomby in Berlin
"The Foreign Office maintains she was not wanted by the police at the time"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 14:37 GMT
Fischer 'could have met' militant
Joschke Fischer and Gerhard Schroeder
Fischer under the watchful eye of Chancellor Schroeder
Embattled German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is under continuing pressure over his alleged links with a member of the Red Army Faction (RAF) who says she stayed at his flat in the 1970s.

Mr Fischer, in court testimony last week, said his flat in Frankfurt had never been used to shelter armed militants.

The attempt to push Minister Fischer into the milieu of 1970s terrorism is as transparent as it is baseless

German Foreign Ministry statement
But Germany's ARD television station quoted him as saying that the RAF militant Magrit Schiller might, after all, have stayed at the house where he lived and he did not rule out having had breakfast with her.

The German Foreign Ministry says Mr Fischer's comments to the station were off-the-record.

The public prosecutor in Frankfurt has been asked by a former policeman to look into claims of an apparent contradiction between Mr Fischer's words in court and an account of events in Ms Schiller's autobiography.

'Nothing to hide'

As the row deepens, the German Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying Ms Schiller was not wanted by police at the time of her alleged encounter with Mr Fischer.

"The attempt to push Minister Fischer into the milieu of 1970s terrorism is as transparent as it is baseless," the statement said.

Magrit Schiller
Magrit Schiller: jailed for an attack on a policeman
Mr Fischer had "nothing to hide and nothing to fear", it added.

A spokesman for Mr Fischer said the house in question had contained many shared apartments, and it was possible that Ms Schiller had stayed in one of the others.

Mr Fischer's court testimony came as he gave evidence at the trial of a former acquaintance, Hans-Joachim Klein, accused of murder in the 1973 kidnapping of Opec ministers in Vienna.

We expect that new revelations about his actions back then will come to light

Christian Democrat Wolfgang Bosbach
Earlier this week, a German magazine said it had verified Ms Schiller's claims of staying with Mr Fischer in April 1973.

She said they had gone on pub crawls and had breakfast together.

Cabinet pressure

Conservatives have made it clear they will not ease their pressure on Mr Fischer.

"We expect that new revelations about his actions back then will come to light," said Wolfgang Bosbach of the main opposition Christian Democrats.

"There are still many witnesses who know exactly what he did back then."

Mr Fischer's Green Party colleague, Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, is also under pressure over allegedly supporting a student newsletter which expressed "furtive pleasure" at the murder of a federal prosecutor by RAF militants.

Mr Trittin has denied the accusation though he admits it was a "serious mistake" not to have distanced himself from the letter earlier.

Chancellor Schroeder has said he accepts both ministers' explanations of their actions.

Several other German cabinet ministers remain under pressure over unrelated issues.

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See also:

22 Jan 01 | Europe
Fischer 'gave militant refuge'
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Germany's creaking cabinet
09 Jan 01 | Europe
Schroeder backs foreign minister
17 Oct 00 | Europe
Jackal ally tried for Opec kidnap
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Germany
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