- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Questioning Germany

The U.S. ambassador to Germany has met senior German officials to determine the depth of Germany's opposition to an attack on Iraq.

Ambassador Daniel Coats did not meet directly with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the Reuters news agency reported.

"There was a discussion with senior officials from the chancellor's office [on Saturday]," a German government spokesman said. "U.S. Ambassador Coats was again informed about Germany's position on Iraq."

Mr. Schroeder told the German newspaper Bild earlier this month, "The Middle East needs new peace, not new war. Anything else would worsen the global economic crisis and also bring us only economic difficulties."

The German ambassador to the United States outlined Germany's position in a recent article he wrote for the Fox News weekly newsletter.

"President Bush has promised that he will consult Chancellor Schroeder once [he] has a plan in place. So far, we have not been asked to participate in any action on Iraq," Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger said.

"Why would anyone want to criticize Germany for not doing something we haven't even been asked to do?"

Mr. Ischinger emphasized Germany's friendship with the United States and with Israel.

"Germany has always stood by its American friends, in good time and in bad times," he said. "Germany is also one of Israel's best friends worldwide, second only to the U.S."

Mr. Ischinger said Germany wants to consult closely with the United States before any action is taken against Iraq.

"My fellow Germans want to be 100 percent sure that what they might participate in would be legal beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.

"Have all other means been exhausted? What are the regional and strategic implications of our action? Are we sure there are no better alternatives to military action?

"These are important questions, and that is what Chancellor Schroeder is getting at when he says that he does not want to participate in adventures."

The ambassador said Germany shares the U.S. goal of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"But we are still far from certain that the only, or the best, way to prevent this is to use military force," he said.

Flood-relief funds

The German and Czech embassies are seeking contributions to aid the victims of the worst floods in Central Europe in a century.

The German Embassy said it opened the German Flood Relief fund to "spare donors the considerable fees involved in sending international wire transfers."

Checks payable to the German Relief Fund should be sent to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20007. Contributions can also be made directly at any branch of Riggs Bank, account number 25445962.

The Czech Embassy and the American Friends of the Czech Republic are soliciting aid for Czech victims. Contributions can be made payable to AFoCR-Prague Needs Help Flood Relief Fund and sent to Citibank FSB, 1901 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20007. Wire transfers can be sent to the Citibank account 1507-4188. The routing number is 254070116.

Magical Venezuela

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton yesterday struck a literary chord, as he denounced judges who dismissed charges against four military officers accused of trying to overthrow President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Chaderton, addressing the Organization of American States in Washington, alluded to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian-born novelist and Nobel Prize winner.

"In our magical land, the president was kidnapped without kidnappers and jailed without jailers. Only shadowy specters exist like in a feverish fantasy of Garcia Marquez," he said.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court last week ruled prosecutors had insufficient evidence to try the military officers in connection with the April coup that toppled Mr. Chavez for 48 hours, until his supporters reinstated him. The officers claimed they believed Mr. Chavez had resigned.

The OAS is alarmed at the tensions between the leftist president and his political opponents in the oil-rich nation.

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