Merkel 'n' Bush: Iran Dominates Friendly Meeting in Washington
Both US President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized their growing friendship on Wednesday. Merkel even invited Bush to visit her constituency. But Iran dominated their talks.
The relationship between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush is becoming increasingly friendly.
But despite the camaraderie on display, Merkel's stay in Washington was overshadowed by tough decisions approaching on Iran. On Wednesday, the US, Britain and France pushed ahead with a draft resolution for the United Nations Security Council which would demand that Iran put the brakes on its nuclear ambitions and would allow for sanctions were Iran to continue flaunting the international community. The resolution would be introduced under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, meaning it could eventually be enforced by sanctions or military action, though a separate resolution would be required to authorize either step.
Speaking to the White House press corps, Merkel said: "We are in total agreement saying that under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to come into possession of nuclear weapons."
The Beijing-Moscow problem
Convincing Russia and China -- likewise veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council along with the US, Britain and France -- to join the Western draft resolution, however, may prove difficult. China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya commented on the draft resolution by saying, "I don't think this draft as it stands now will produce good results. I think it is tougher than expected." Moscow too has been reluctant to pursue sanctions against Iran. On Wednesday, though, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he could support the draft resolution pending a few changes.
Foreign ministers from the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany will meet again on Monday and Tuesday in New York before negotiations begin next Thursday.
Merkel, for her part, is in New York on Thursday for meetings with business leaders. In the evening, she will address the 100 anniversary celebration of the American Jewish Committee -- and she will become the first German chancellor ever to address the group.
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