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Chill dissipates as Bush talks to German leader

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 9, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared the administration's frosty relations with Germany to be "unpoisoned" Friday after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder moved to make amends with President Bush.

Schroeder telephoned Bush for the leaders' first conversation since Schroeder ran an anti-American re-election campaign in September.

"Chancellor Schroeder expressed his hope for good working relations with President Bush, and the two leaders also discussed the war on terrorism and Turkey," White House spokesman Sean McCormack said.

White House officials said Bush is rarely as furious as he was at Schroeder, whose justice minister was quoted as comparing Bush's pressure on Iraq with tactics used by Adolf Hitler.

The minister resigned the day after Schroeder's re-election, but relations between the countries remained the worst in decades.

By Friday evening, there were signs that relations had healed considerably. Schroeder's call, which lasted about 10 minutes, coincided with a visit to Washington by Peter Struck, the German defense minister. He appeared Friday night with Rumsfeld.

When a reporter asked about a U.S. official's earlier description of relations between the country as "poisoned," Rumsfeld jovially declared them "unpoisoned," without elaborating.

Struck laughed, too, saying, "That's good. Very good."

Despite the renewed amicability, Struck reiterated German opposition to the use of military force in Iraq.

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