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European Leaders to Discuss Common Position on Iraq - 2003-09-16

The leaders of Britain, France, and Germany are meeting in Berlin Saturday to seek a joint position on Iraq, an issue that earlier divided the nations.

Word of the talks came from all three countries. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office says he will meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac for wide-ranging discussions on economic and international affairs including Iraq. Mr. Blair's spokesman says the Berlin talks will be informal.

Germany says the meeting will aim for what a government spokesman called, "overcoming divergent views that developed in the run-up to the Iraq war." French President Jaques Chirac also said the point of the one-day meeting is to find common ground.

France and Germany were staunchly opposed to the war, seeking instead the continuation of the U.N. search for Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Britain and France have a veto power in the U.N. Security Council, which is considering a U.S. draft resolution on the future of Iraq calling for a multi-national force under U.S. command. France and Germany have said they want the United Nations at the center of reconstruction, and want a timetable for turning over political responsibility to the Iraqi people.

Mr. Blair's office announced separately that the prime minister has invited Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to Britain for additional talks Sunday. Spain, like Britain, supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq.