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Bush, Schroeder Seek to Move Beyond Differences over Iraq - 2004-02-27

President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder say they have put aside their differences over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and are working together to make the country more stable.

It was all smiles in the Oval Office, as both men sought to move beyond differences over Iraq. Chancellor Schroeder, who won re-election on a platform opposing the war, said they talked, not about the past, but about their shared interest in a stable and democratic Iraq.

He said both countries are looking forward. "It was indeed a very good meeting, Mr. President, and we very much agreed that we now have to face up the challenges of the 21st century," he said.

President Bush said it was a really constructive meeting about mutual interests of freedom, peace and prosperity. He said he has a comfortable relationship with the German Chancellor, who Mr. Bush says is an easy person to be with, because he makes him laugh.

The president said the world is a better place when Germany and the United States work together. "We've had differences in the past. But there's nothing wrong with friends having differences," the president said. "And we have both committed to put the differences behind us, and move forward. Germany is an important nation. And Germany occupies an important place in Europe. And it is essential that America have good relations with Europe."

The president thanked the German Chancellor for his country's help in Afghanistan, saying Mr. Schroeder is a partner in leadership on Afghanistan, as well as the Balkans. The two men also discussed nuclear weapons in North Korea, and prospects for peace in the Middle East.

It was Mr. Schroeder's first visit to the White House in two years, and comes amid European concerns about the weakness of the U.S. dollar.

In a speech Thursday, Mr. Schroeder said the weak U.S. dollar poses dangers for world trade and could hinder economic growth.