Smart, fascinating and wise. When it comes to Angela Merkel, George W. Bush does not hold back praise. On her third Washington visit since taking office, the German chancellor received the blessings of the U.S. President not only on her efforts to revive the Middle East peace process through a new meeting of the Middle East Quartet but also on climate protection.
The German chancellor, whose country holds the rotating presidencies of the European Union and the Group of Eight (G-8), wants to start up the “road map” peace plan again with the help of the EU, the U.S., Russia and the United Nations. Before Christmas, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already secured the support of Moscow for an early meeting of the Quartet. In a joint press conference with the German chancellor, President Bush announced that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be traveling to the Middle East shortly and make a report to Merkel.
On climate protection, Bush also showed an openness for new ideas. After the meeting with Merkel, the U.S. president reconfirmed his support for the advancement of newer, more energy efficient technologies. The chancellor explained it was apparent “that on the one hand, we need economic growth, but on the other, we need a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” On the topic of economic policy, both leaders showed confidence that they would manage to bring forward the stagnant Doha round of world trade talks. These were interrupted last July because the U.S., the EU, Japan, Australia and Brazil failed to make headway in the reduction of subsidies for agriculture and of import barriers for industrial goods.