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Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

German leader signals closer U.S. relations

December 1, 2005

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— Signaling a change in style, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Wednesday to put aside past differences between Germany and the United States even as she pressed for the Bush administration to take seriously European concerns about alleged CIA prisons in Europe.

"Let the battles of the past lie - those battles have been fought," Merkel said in her first speech to parliament as chancellor. "As far as the future is concerned, the new government will work with all its strength for a close, honest, open and trusting relationship in the trans-Atlantic partnership."

The new leader also promised to stand firm in her first crisis abroad - the kidnapping of a German woman in Iraq. She said Berlin would not be blackmailed by captors' demands that Germany stop all contacts with the Iraqi government.

In European policy, she indicated a shift in emphasis by reaching out to smaller nations that were irritated by her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder's cozy alliance with France.

Merkel, a conservative, took office last week in a coalition with Schroeder's Social Democrats. While she used the speech Wednesday to set her own tone and agenda for the next four years, her remarks also reflected the delicate balance of that alliance.

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