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Bush, Schroeder Soothe Differences over Iraq - 2003-09-24

U.S. President George Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder say they have overcome differences that divided them over the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush is in New York, where he is lobbying for a new U.N. resolution authorizing a multi-national security force for Iraq.

It was the first formal meeting between the two leaders since last year, when Germany joined France in denying President Bush U.N. authority to invade Iraq.

Now Mr. Bush is looking for help to rebuild the country and says it is time to put past differences with Mr. Schroeder aside.

"The first thing I told him, I said, 'Look, We've had differences and they are over and we are going to work together.' And I believe when Germany and America work together, we can accomplish a lot of positive things," said President Bush. "We are both committed to freedom. We are both committed to peace. We are both committed to the prosperity of our people."

Chancellor Schroeder agreed that their differences over Iraq "have been left behind" as he and Mr. Bush agreed to "look into the future together."

"Germany has a very strong, in fact a vested interest in a stable and very democratic Iraq and development to that effect," he said. "It is very important, not just for Iraq as such, but for the whole of the region, for Germany, and therefore also for Europe."

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, Mr. Bush recognized U.N. division over invading Iraq but said it is time to "move forward" toward greater security and, ultimately, a return to Iraqi self-rule.

President Bush wants a multinational U.N. security force under U.S. control. Mr. Schroeder has ruled out sending troops to Iraq but is offering to train Iraqi police and maintain Germany's peacekeeping role in Afghanistan.

Their meeting comes a day after President Bush met with another major critic of the Iraqi invasion, French President Jacques Chirac. Mr. Chirac wants a bigger political role for the U.N. and a timetable for a new sovereign government.

President Bush says it is too soon for a timetable because free elections cannot be held until there is a new constitution. He says the process must unfold "according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties."

Despite continuing differences with the French, White House officials say President Chirac told Mr. Bush that he will not use his Security Council veto against the U.S. resolution. Instead, he says France will likely abstain and let the measure pass.