- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said yesterday that while his efforts to repair chilly relations with the United States were taking place under difficult circumstances, his visit to Washington was "no pilgrimage of repentance."
He reiterated Germany's opposition to any military intervention in Iraq, a stand credited with helping Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder win a second term during his re-election campaign last month.
Mr. Fischer told reporters on his plane to Washington he would discuss differences with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and called the United States and Germany "good allies."
Although the two officials have spoken by telephone since the election, it was their first face-to-face meeting.
The White House is still angry about the election campaign, and Mr. Fischer won't be received there, a State Department official said.
Mr. Schroeder and President Bush will have a chance to shake hands at a Nov. 21-22 NATO summit in Prague.
Despite differences on Iraq policy, Mr. Fischer said there were areas in which Germany and the United States worked together. He mentioned Afghanistan, the Balkans and the international fight against terrorism.
Mr. Powell indicated in an interview with European newspapers earlier in the week that he was ready to try to patch up differences with "my old friend, my good friend, Joschka Fischer."
"With respect to U.S.-German relations, we have been in some turbulent times in recent weeks," Mr. Powell said.
"We have a problem, and we'll get over that problem for the simple reason that Germany and the United States are two nations that are bound together by common values, common beliefs and democracy and all the other things that have kept us together as strong partners for the last half-century," he said.
Mr. Powell and Mr. Fischer, who met yesterday evening at the State Department, were expected to discuss Iraq, planning for the NATO summit and a German offer to take charge of the international security force in Afghanistan along with the Dutch, an offer Germany hopes will please Washington.
Mr. Schroeder's opposition to a U.S. military strike against Iraq played well with many German voters with an aversion to military force that grew out of the Holocaust and World War II. But critics said campaigning against the United States broke a postwar taboo.
Mr. Bush's advisers were most angered when one of Mr. Schroeder's Cabinet ministers reportedly said during the campaign that Mr. Bush, like Adolf Hitler, was whipping up a war frenzy to divert attention from economic problems at home. The Bush administration has called U.S.-German relations poisoned.
Before his departure for Washington, Mr. Fischer said in an interview with the Bild newspaper: "What does it have to do with anti-Americanism when we clearly say that we consider a military strike against Iraq to be wrong?"
He said U.S.-German relations are "good and stable."

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