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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 09:35 GMT
Germany's Merkel criticises Iran
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel wants to revitalise German-US ties
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started her first official visit to the US by criticising Iran for resuming its nuclear programme.

Speaking at a reception in Washington, Mrs Merkel accused Iran of having "crossed the red line".

The chancellor will meet President Bush on Friday to discuss a range of issues, including Iran and terrorism.

Her visit is aimed at improving ties between the two countries which were strained by the invasion of Iraq.

Gerhard Schroeder, Mrs Merkel's predecessor, openly opposed the US-led war.

'Good sign'

In her speech on Thursday, Mrs Merkel stressed the importance of co-operation between Germany, France and the UK - known as the EU3 - and the US in reaching an agreement with Iran.

"When we deal with Iran we should find a broad consensus in the UN, but also a broad consensus between those states which tried to find a solution during the past months," she said.

We should continue to act together
Angela Merkel
German chancellor

"I think it is a good sign that the US, France, Great Britain and Germany did this together and we should continue to act together," she added.

Mrs Merkel also said she wants to improve the relationship between Germany and the US.

While she did call for the closure of the controversial US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says the visit itself is a sign that both countries want to revitalise their relationship.

Three hours have been set aside for the talks, much longer than Mr Schroeder was ever given.

However, it is not thought that the centre-right Christian Democrat (CDU) leader's foreign policy will differ substantially from that of Mr Schroeder, as his former chief of staff is in charge of the foreign ministry.

See German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving in Washington

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