Facebook Twitter

Schroeder offers support to Bush

SHARE Schroeder offers support to Bush

NEW YORK — President Bush won a commitment today from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to set aside differences and work together for a strong and stable Iraq. "We both agree that we want to look into the future together," Schroeder said.

"It is very important, not just for Iraq, but for the whole of the region, for Germany and therefore for the whole of Europe," Schroeder said.

Receiving a renewed German offer to help train Iraqi police and security forces, Bush said, "I appreciate his efforts to help Iraq grow to be a peaceful and stable and democratic country."

Still, there was no indication Germany would contribute peacekeeping troops, as it has to Afghanistan, or that Schroeder would retract his support for France's call for a quick end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

And Schroeder said he did not feel "under time pressure" from a proposed U.S. resolution in the U.N. Security Council designed to draw in troops and financial support for reconstruction.

He described his conversation with Bush as "very open-minded" and "trustful."

Bush faced an uphill task in his drive for an unhurried transition to rule by Iraqis as the difficult reconstruction of postwar Iraq reopened the divide between the United States and the United Nations despite the president's softer rhetorical tone here.

Except for a handshake at an economic conference last spring, it was the first formal meeting between Bush and Schroeder in more than a year.

Bush said he had told Schroeder that "we have had differences and they are over, and we're going to work together."

Schroeder, sounding the same theme, told reporters Germany "would like to come in and help with the resources that we do have."

A German diplomat, meanwhile, said Bush had expressed understanding that Germany could not provide troops. The diplomat, who was at the meeting, said the issue of financial contributions was not discussed.

France, Germany and many other nations remained opposed to continued U.S. occupation after Bush's mild defense Tuesday of an unhurried transition to democracy in Iraq.

President Jacques Chirac of France insisted on a "realistic timetable" for returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people. While Chirac promised not to veto a stalled U.S. resolution designed to attract more peacekeeping troops, he also insisted steps begin immediately to end the U.S. military occupation.

"In an open world," Chirac said, "no one can live in isolation, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules."

As Chirac stood against unilateral U.S. action in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized Bush's "pre-emptive" attack on Iraq.

Such strikes "could set precedents that result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification," Annan said.

Bush suggested softly "Let us move forward."

A year ago, Bush, in a stern speech, tried to build a case against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Ultimately, he drew only some support from the Security Council and went to war without direct authority.

Britain, Australia and several other nations stood with the United States. But Bush said Tuesday "some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagree with our actions."

To try to accommodate them, Bush offered the United Nations a larger role in Iraq's reconstruction. But he did not budge from his plan for step-by-step transformation of Iraq to democracy.

"This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis — neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties," he said.

Bush's remarks did not overcome the gap between the United States and skeptical leaders, and a senior administration official made clear afterward that the United States intends to remain in charge of reconstruction as it insists on being in charge of the peacekeeping operation.

"There is an important role for the U.N. to play," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But, the official said, the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by American L. Paul Bremer "has to get the job done" and whatever resolution the Security Council may adopt must reflect "what really are the facts on the ground."

The official said Bush has touched off a debate about whether the United Nations is capable of dealing with the threats of the 21st century. "If you cannot reform the U.N., if the Security Council cannot act, then you leave no choice but for people to protect themselves," the official said.

Work on the U.S. resolution has stopped, at least until Bush concludes his meetings with foreign leaders today. Among them are Schroeder and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. On Tuesday he talked with Chirac and a supporter of the Iraq war, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain.

Bush will raise with Musharraf concerns expressed to the president on Tuesday by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Taliban forces were being trained in Pakistan and then crossing the border into Afghanistan, a U.S. official said.

Resurgent Taliban forces, chased from Afghanistan two years ago in a U.S.-led war, are getting protection from Islamic hardline politicians and rogue elements of Pakistani security, Afghan and Western officials charge.

The debate over the role of the United Nations in Iraq reverberated from the U.N. and private meetings in New York to Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign.

In Washington, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said he thought Bush "lost an opportunity."

"He came before the international community and he could have made the case for more troops, more resources," the South Dakota Democrat said. "He didn't do that."

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, said he was encouraged by Bush's private meetings with world leaders. "If our alliances were damaged by the Iraq war, let the liberation of Iraq be the reason for repairing and strengthening those alliances," Hagel said.