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President Bush Participates in Joint Press Availability with Chancellor Merkel of Germany
Schloss Meseberg
Meseberg, Germany, June 11, 2008


Madam Chancellor, thank you for the invitation to this beautiful place, a modest little cottage by the lake, it is -- I'm really glad you thought of this location. Laura and I loved our dinner last night. For those in the German press who thought I didn't like asparagus, you're wrong. (Laughter.) The German asparagus are fabulous.

But anyways, it's a great place for -- to relax and have a good discussion. Our relationship is strong and our relationship is active. And I assured the Chancellor that when I say I'm going to sprint to the finish, that's what I mean. And that we had a lot of -- we've got a lot of issues that we can talk about.

I first want to thank the German people for their contributions to helping the people of Afghanistan realize the blessings of a free society. I know this is a controversial subject here, but I hope when the Afghanistan debates go forward, I hope people here think of young girls who couldn't go to school in the past but now can; or think of mothers who bring their babies to health clinics for the first time; think about farmers who now have got access to markets to help deal with food shortages. This is hard work, I understand that, to help a young democracy grow after years of tyranny. But I believe it's necessary work. And Madam Chancellor, I appreciate your leadership on this issue.

I also want to thank you for the contributions you're making to the young democracy in Iraq, as well. This has obviously been a contentious issue between our countries in the past, but what shouldn't be contentious is the mutual desire to help advance freedom in the Middle East as the great alternative to the ideology of the haters and the murderers; those who espouse violent extremism to advance their agenda.

We talked about, you know, progress in the Holy Land for the establishment of a Palestinian state. I'm still optimistic that we can get a state defined, clearly understood by both parties before the end of my presidency.

We talked about Iran, of course. I told the Chancellor my first choice, of course, is to solve this diplomatically. All options are on the table and that -- but the first choice is to solve this problem by working closely together, by sending a dual message, which has been the consistent policy of this administration, that if you verifiably suspend your enrichment programs you'll end your isolation, and there's a way forward for you.

The Iranian regime has made a choice so far, and it's a bad choice for the Iranian people. The Iranian people deserve better than being isolated from the world. They deserve better from having, you know, their government held up as, you know, unsafe and not trustworthy. And so the message from the EU Foreign Minister Solana will be: There's a better choice for you. And we'll see what choice they make.

We talked about Lebanon and the need for that young democracy to survive.

We did talk about global climate change, of course. The Chancellor started a very good process here in Germany nearly a year ago. As a result of her leadership, the United States is working very closely with, you know, other major economies to develop a common goal. Step one of solving a problem is for nations who actually emit carbon dioxide to agree to a goal. And that's just not European nations; that's the United States along with China and India. Once that goal is agreed to, then develop long-term and interim strategies that are binding strategies to meet those goals.

So that's the process we're going forward. It turns out the major economies meeting is working concurrently with the G8 -- meeting at the same time as the G8. And the objective is to be able to announce a long-term binding goal at the G8, as well as the major economies meeting, Madam Chancellor, on a process that you started.

We talked about Doha. You know, it's -- I'm a free trader. The Chancellor is a free trader. The question is, you know, is there a commitment to free trade in the face of protectionism? A lot of protectionism in the American political scene these days. I'm sure there's some protectionism here in Germany. I happen to think it would be, you know, disastrous for the world economy and disastrous for poor nations if we didn't trade freely and fairly.

One way to make that commitment is for the Doha Round to succeed. I assured the Chancellor that we're committed to the Doha Round. We will work hard to achieve it. The Transatlantic Economic Council is a very important council that we started together as a way to resolve our differences, to make sure that trade is fair and free.

All in all, relations with Germany are strong, as I told you. And that's good and that's important. And Madam Chancellor, I want to thank you for your friendship, as well.

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Updated: June 2008