U.S.-German Counterterrorism Conference
you Herr Sonn,
Last week three events took place that I want to highlight.
On Tuesday, during the evening rush hour, explosions blew apart packed commuter trains in Mumbai, India. The United States joined many others in condemning this latest act of indiscriminate murder and destruction, which killed two hundred innocent civilians and injured another six hundred. Clearly the intent was to kill as many citizens as possible.
Within days, the terrorists, Hezbollah began to fire rockets at civilian targets in Israel. The purpose was to kill as many citizens as possible.
It is clear that terrorists are a worldwide menace to our civilian populations no matter what the nation. The responsibility to protect our populations and destroy the menace rests squarely on the shoulders of government. Those of us in this room.
The third event was the arrival of President Bush and his team in Germany for meetings with Chancellor Merkel.
Fighting terrorism is one of the most important U.S. objectives. The President and the Chancellor have discussed it repeatedly. Terrorists ignore borders as much as they disregard human life. They attack buildings, trains, buses, schools, ships, hotels, and restaurants. They change their tactics as often as they change their targets. We cannot protect everyone everywhere, but we can do better. Together, we have arrested terrorists and prevented their attacks. But we all know we are not doing enough.
Germany just hosted the World Cup very successfully. I join others who congratulate Germany for ensuring the safety of hundreds of thousands of spectators who watched the games in stadiums and at Fan Fests. Germany's success was not a coincidence. It came because of Germany's excellent planning -- and vast and groundbreaking cooperation with participating, neighboring and transit countries. British bobbies, Dutch border guards, U.S. agents, and NATO AWACS planes all played their part.
Effectiveness requires cooperation. We cannot be content with existing levels of cooperation.
Look around this room - several U.S. and German agencies are represented, not to mention other partners. We are already cooperating formally and informally. Let's use this conference to find out ways to do more.
Germany has recently signed agreements - the so-called Pruem agreements - with its EU partners to share law enforcement data more quickly. I applaud this German initiative. This is exactly the kind of change that's needed. But we need bilateral cooperation as well as multilateral cooperation. Germany needs to work with its EU partners - and Germany and the U.S. need to find ways to develop closer cooperation too.
I am sure that the President and the Chancellor would agree with me. The two of them coordinate closely. Their meeting last week was the third meeting in seven months. They call each other on the phone regularly and also communicate via videoconference from time to time. It's unprecedented. They discuss everything on our common agenda, from Iran to North Korea, from the WTO Doha Round to UN Peacekeeping. They have found common ground and have found ways to move ahead.
And so, we in this room must tighten our collaboration to reach our shared objectives. To fight terrorism there is clearly more for us to do than share information; we need to work within our own societies. One of the things we need to make clear is that there is no clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam.
I applaud the Chancellor's integration summit last week and I applaud Minister Schaeuble's initiative to have a top-level meeting with Muslim leaders in the fall of this year.
This is an important point for me as well. As Ambassador, I have worked on a number of projects to echo these sentiments. I have met and developed working relationships with many Muslim leaders in Germany. I hosted an Iftar dinner during Ramadan at my residence. Our Consuls General have done so as well.
Together, we have launched a program, "Windows on America," to bring a broader, more diverse segment of young immigrant people, including Muslims, from Germany to visit the U.S.A. We want them to see how Muslims and other minorities can and do become integral members of our society. We have sent journalists -- some with Muslim heritage themselves and some who report on issues of religion, integration and multiculturalism-- to the U.S. to expand and deepen their understanding of the American experience with immigration and multiculturalism. My wife and I regularly reach out to community groups in districts like Neu Koeln and Wedding -- reaching out by encouraging dialogue and establishing mentor and tutoring programs. The Embassy recently hosted the first in a series of symposia involving more than 100 youth from Berlin's minority neighborhoods, bringing them together with German and American experts to discuss issues of concern to the young people in Germany's Muslim communities.
German Muslims have told me about their difficulties integrating in Germany. These problems can be surmounted but part of the solution is sincere dialogue.
In my time in Germany I have seen the successes of what we can achieve when we work together. We are working very closely together on Iran. We appreciate the strong positions that both the Chancellor and Minister Steinmeier have taken on the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
We have all seen the success of Interior Minister Schaeuble on the World Cup. Justice Minister Zypries and her ministry also play a vital role combating terrorism. With these successes behind us, I know that we will continue to succeed.
Thank you for participating in the conference. I look forward to hearing more about how the next two days go and what plans you develop for doing more together to achieve even more in the future.(As prepared for delivery)
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Updated: August 2006