German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she hoped that incoming US President Barack Obama will consult and cooperate with his international partners, and took a swipe at the unilateralism of George W. Bush by saying no country can solve the world's problems on its own.
"I hope our cooperation will be characterized by listening to one another and taking decisions on the basis that any one country can't solve the world's problems on its own, but that we can only do it together. And I will meet him in that spirit," Merkel told Germany's ARD television on Tuesday ahead of Obama's inauguration.
She said Obama's inauguration as the first black president of the US was "a truly great hour for America" that offered "a multitude of opportunities."
Merkel cited Afghanistan, Iran and relations with Russia as areas where she expected improved cooperation. However she indicated that Germany would remain steadfast in its refusal to deploy its troops in Afghanistan in the more dangerous south -- a position which has caused friction with Germany's NATO allies.
"We will be happy to discuss how we can make more determined political progress in Afghanistan, but there will be no immediate change for Germany because we really have taken responsibility in the past," Merkel said.
She welcomed Obama's pledge to hold talks with Iran and Syria, dismissed as "rogue states" by Bush, and to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
She called on Obama to take a more mulitilateral approach in tackling the global economic and financial crisis. "That means the United States of America ceding part of its own sovereignty to international organisations when it comes to international treaties. That means agreeing to international rules for the financial markets."
Merkel also criticized US subsidies to its auto industry, saying the aid distorted competition and would not solve the struggling sector's problems in the long term.
"I'm not against American companies surviving. But of course we cannot accept competition-distorting subsidies to be paid in the long run," Merkel said.
"Europe cannot look on if one side pays subsidies and the other side accepts the rule of market forces ... The future of the auto industry cannot in the long run rely on a state subsidy."
The US government has made billions of dollars available for its auto industry which is suffering from a collapse in sales in the wake of the financial crisis.