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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 15:02 GMT
Germany-US relations improve
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
The US was angered by Schroeder's opposition to war in Iraq
Germany and the United States have re-established a working relationship following two months of cool diplomatic relations between the nations.


Germany is a long-standing ally of the United States in Nato and, needless to say, we value that relationship and the friendship of the German people

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
The resumption came after US President George W Bush telephoned German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Saturday.

White House spokesman Sean McCormack said that Mr Schroeder had made the phone call to the US president expressing the hope the two countries could have "good working relations".

"The president's response is that he's interested in getting down to business, moving forward on common agenda items," Mr McCormack said.

The resumption of the relationship coincides with a visit to the US by German Defence Minister Peter Struck, who held talks with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Saturday at the Pentagon on the issue of Iraq.

Mr Rumsfeld later pronounced relations between the two countries to be "unpoisoned".

"Germany is a long-standing ally of the United States in Nato and, needless to say, we value that relationship and the friendship of the German people," he said.

Soured relationship

Relations between the two countries soured in September when, during the German election campaign, Mr Schroeder repeatedly voiced his opposition to military action against Iraq - a position which angered the US.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (l) with German Defence Minister Peter Struck
Struck (r) praised the US for working with the UN on Iraq
The US administration was also infuriated by alleged comments from former German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who likened the US president to Adolf Hitler.

An angry Mr Rumsfeld said that Mr Schroeder's election campaign had had the effect of "poisoning the relationship" between the two countries.

Ms Daeubler-Gmelin denied making the remarks, for which Mr Schroeder apologised, but was subsequently left out of Mr Schroeder's coalition government.

'Frozen out'

Analysts said that Germany, which was once Washington's most obedient ally, found itself frozen out while America's sometimes difficult partner, France, took over diplomatic manoeuvring on the Iraq issue.

Mr Bush delayed calling the German chancellor to offer congratulations over his narrow election win, and Mr Rumsfeld pointedly refused to meet his German counterpart at a Nato meeting in Warsaw.

Germany later offered to head the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, along with the Netherlands, in a move widely regarded as a bridge-building exercise to the US.

And although Germany continues to assert that it will not join a US-led attack on Iraq, Mr Struck said, at a press conference following his meeting with Mr Rumsfeld, that the US policy of working through the United Nations was a positive step.

"The line and the approach of President Bush to co-operate with or to go through the United Nations, to choose the way of multilateral approach, has proven to be correct," he said.

See also:

02 Oct 02 | Europe
23 Sep 02 | Europe
17 Sep 02 | Europe
20 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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