[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 01:27 GMT
Bush, Merkel push Mid-East talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W Bush
No more "back rubs", Mr Bush promised Mrs Merkel
US President George W Bush has backed a proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a new meeting of the Middle East Quartet on the Palestinian issue.

Russia, the EU, the US and the UN should play a larger role in the Middle East peace process, the two leaders agreed in talks in Washington.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to the region shortly.

Mrs Merkel also said that a "window of opportunity" for a world trade agreement was closing fast.

Mr Bush, who caused Mrs Merkel to flinch when he gave her an impromptu neck massage at a summit in Russia last year, also joked he would give her "no back rubs".

Climate change

Mr Bush said after the meeting: "Madame Chancellor had a good idea to convene the quartet.

"We're strongly committed to a two-state solution. Two democracies supporting each other's rights to exist."

However, Mr Bush said the quartet should not become involved in other Middle East issues, such as Lebanon and Syria.

The leaders discussed a number of other issues, including trade, Sudan's Darfur region and climate change.

On climate change, Mr Bush said: "I believe there is a chance now to put behind us the old stale debates of the past."

Mrs Merkel said: "On the one hand, we obviously need economic growth, but on the other hand, a reduction, also of greenhouse gases."

Mrs Merkel also said time was running out for a world trade deal.

Mr Bush said he thought a deal was still possible but added: "We've got hard work to overcome our obstacles."

Five-year talks on global trade barriers and subsidies - the so-called Doha round - collapsed in July.

Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU and year-long presidency of the G8 nations.

Merkel: 'Boost EU-US trade ties'
03 Jan 07 |  Business
Bush 'to replace top US generals'
04 Jan 07 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific