- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Germans not needed

The U.S. ambassador to Germany said yesterday that the country could play a larger role in world affairs, even though it has rejected a request to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq.

Ambassador Daniel Coats also previewed a meeting Friday between President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, calling the visit to Washington a chance to repair the diplomatic damage from Germany’s opposition to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Coats said, “We need to move forward, and the president’s meeting with the chancellor is a positive step forward.”

Mr. Schroeder’s visit to the White House is his first in two years.

The ambassador told the radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk that Germany could play a larger role in international affairs.

“As the third-largest economy in the world and the largest country in Europe, … Germany, … together with us, is active in Africa, in the Middle East and other areas,” he said. “We would welcome it if Germany strengthened its economy, its military and its foreign policy.”

Mr. Coats said the Bush administration accepts Germany’s decision against deploying troops to Baghdad and appreciates its pledge not to block a NATO proposal to help stabilize Iraq.

“The German government has said that it does not want to send soldiers to Iraq. We accept that,” Mr. Coats said.

“We are happy that the federal government announced it would not stand in the way of a NATO engagement in Iraq. There is no need for German troops there.”

Confidence in Saudis

Saudi Arabia, still reeling from deadly suicide bombings last year, can protect foreigners as well as its citizens from further attacks, according to the U.S. Embassy in the kingdom.

“The United States has strong confidence in Saudi authorities’ ability to handle these matters,” an embassy official told Agence France-Presse in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“The United States is confident that Saudi authorities are capable of protecting both their own citizens and foreign residents.”

The State Department last week allowed American diplomats and their families to return to Saudi Arabia, two months after authorizing their departure for security reasons.

However, the department still has a travel warning against unnecessary visits to Saudi Arabia.

“U.S. citizens are reminded of remaining security concerns and the potential for further terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. Private American citizens should continue to evaluate their own security situations,” the warning said.

“The U.S. government continues to receive indications of terrorists threats aimed at American and Western interests, including the targeting of transportation and civil aviation.”

Saudi officials continue to hunt for suspects in the terrorist bombings in the capital last year that killed 52 persons.

West Bank pullout

Israel must withdraw completely from the West Bank or face a “catastrophe,” former Prime Minister Shimon Peres said this week.

Mr. Peres discussed his concerns with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and shared his views at a private dinner this week, the Associated Press reported.

He said Israel must give up all the land it captured when its Arab neighbors attacked the Jewish state in 1967.

“If you keep 10 percent of the land, you keep 100 percent of the conflict,” he said.

“Catastrophe is waiting in the corner,” unless Israel turns over the territory for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Mr. Peres, prime minister from 1984 to 1986, said the withdrawal “is not a political decision, it is a moral decision.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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