- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2003

BERLIN (Agence France-Presse) — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Bush, at odds for months over the Iraq war, will meet in New York on Sept. 23, a German newspaper reported today, quoting the U.S. State Department.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet for the first time in 15 months on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting, the weekly Welt am Sonntag reported in its editions today.

Relations between the two leaders soured over Mr. Schroeder’s staunch opposition to the war in Iraq, but recently Germany has signaled a willingness for a return to normal, notably by promising a stronger involvement in Afghanistan, where Germany provides the largest contingent of troops, 1,800 out of 4,000 non-U.S. soldiers.

Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iraq will be on the agenda for the meeting, the report said.

The chancellor, meanwhile, ruled out sending any German troops to join the international stabilization force in Iraq, in an interview with German ZDF television to be broadcast today.

“Now it’s all about reconstructing Iraq, not about a military engagement that we are not considering and for which we have no plans,” Mr. Schroeder said.

Asked whether he planned to meet Mr. Bush later this month and offer other forms of contribution, Mr. Schroeder said Berlin “should not make any offers during a meeting of this kind.”

However, he said Berlin was ready to train Iraqi troops and police in Germany as part of the reconstruction effort.

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