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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: At the White House yesterday German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Bush met for the second time in 6 months. But since the U.S. operation in Iraq, Merkel’s cozy relationship with the President hasn’t been popular with the German public and Bush pointed that out.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I listen to Angela Merkel a lot. She has got a lot of wisdom. I don’t know if this helps her or hurts her for me to say this, but nevertheless.
We asked Ethan Lindsey in Berlin to tell us how Merkel’s visit is being viewed in Germany.
ETHAN LINDSEY: Germans were hoping Merkel would talk Iraq. Instead the two leaders focused on issues where they could work together: Israel, Iran and trade.
Merkel took over the rotating presidencies of the EU and the G-8 on January 1. So a renewal of the world trade talks known as the Doha Round is on her mind, as is a possible NAFTA-like deal between the U.S. and Europe.
Peter Ziehan is a senior European analyst for consulting group Stratfor. He says Merkel’s early visit may help her sell the deal back home.
PETER ZIEHAN: She can then use six months to shape public perceptions in Germany, in core Europe and in the United States most importantly, that this is something that the combined cultures of the West should push for.
German businesses also wanted Merkel to ask some tough questions. They hope she raised the heat on Washington to loosen strict U.S. accounting rules imposed post-Enron, and to open the books at secretive U.S. hedge funds.
In Berlin, I’m Ethan Lindsey for Marketplace.
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