Thursday, June 19, 2003

Germans look forward

Germany wants the United States to forget their dispute over the war in Iraq and build stronger bilateral relations, a senior German diplomat said yesterday.

“We would like to open a new chapter in our relations,” Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s deputy foreign secretary, told reporters at a breakfast meeting.

The dispute, which began when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder bashed the Bush administration during Mr. Schroeder’s election campaign, is “water under the bridge,” Mr. Scharioth said.

In meetings this week with Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and National Security Council officials, he said he had delivered a message of reconciliation.

“We should look forward to common challenges,” Mr. Scharioth said, adding that he had received “positive responses” from U.S. officials.

“They were in agreement. They were useful talks,” he added.

Mr. Scharioth pledged Germany’s continued strong support in the war against terrorism and urged Washington to ensure that the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq succeeds.

“The number one issue facing our countries is terrorism,” he said, adding that the international coalition must prevent terrorist networks, such as Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, from ever establishing a base in another nation.

“We have to keep this broad-based coalition together,” Mr. Scharioth said.

He said the United States and its allies must not only win the war, but also win the peace.

“We have to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, the Arab world,” he said.

Mr. Scharioth also said Europe will work with the United States to “develop a common security strategy” aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, among other goals.

“This has to be urgently done,” he said, expressing hopes that a high-level delegation from the European Union will begin security talks during a Washington visit next week.

Mr. Scharioth added that Europe shares the Bush administration’s worries about Iran’s development of a nuclear reactor, which could lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

Germany, one of Iran’s major trading partners, has warned the Iranian government that it is jeopardizing trade potential by its refusal to give the United Nations full access for weapons inspections.

Mr. Scharioth said Germany also questions why Iran needs nuclear power when it is rich in oil and natural gas and why the country has medium-range missiles that could reach Europe.

Saudis offer water help

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan said yesterday that his country is planning to supply Iraq with enough water-purification plants to provide more than 5 million gallons of clear water every day.

Saudi Arabia will donate 10 stations, each with the capacity to purify 520,000 gallons daily. Contaminated water is one of the most serious health threats in Iraq.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to respond to the needs of the Iraqi people,” Prince Bandar said in a statement.

“We have set up a comprehensive aid package. We have provided a field hospital, along with ambulances, doctors, medical supplies and foodstuffs. The purification facilities are absolutely necessary due to the growing concerns about the lack of potable water in Iraq.”

U.S. criticizes Indonesia

The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia is calling on its government to create an honest judicial system and hold its military accountable for human rights abuses.

Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce said in a speech this week that “a significant area of concern” for the United States is “the lack of genuine accountability for past human rights abuses by the military.” He cited the 1999 repression of the separatist movements in East Timor, which later gained independence, and in Aceh and Papua New Guinea in 1998.

“Equally troubling have been the actions of armed militias — sometimes associated with political parties — against those with whom they disagree or those who have criticized them.”

Mr. Boyce, however, praised the “amazing” progress the country has made toward democracy since 1998, when the dictator Suharto was forced out of power.

He said the United States will provide $18 million to help pay for Indonesia’s presidential and legislative elections next year.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail

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