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Germans protest over British charity's postcard campaign

BRITISH charity campaigners have been called to a meeting today by Germany's finance minister who has been upset by a postcard campaign criticising its attitude to Third World debt.

More than 15,000 postcards from Christian Aid supporters demanding greater support for debt relief have arrived at the German finance ministry in Bonn.

The rattled Germans have responded with an information offensive which contrasts its own cancellation of debts with Britain's. They have also asked charity officials to discuss the issue today. Dr Jurgen Stark, secretary of state for finance, said: "Over the past few years, the amount of debt cancelled by Germany was five times as much as the amount cancelled by the United Kingdom."

Christian Aid launched the postcard campaign earlier this year criticising Germany's "reluctance to support measures that would provide sustainable debt relief for the poorest countries in the world".

The charity argues that Germany would not have recovered from the Second World War if it had been forced to service the kind of sums it now expects Third World nations to pay.

Germany is one of the countries aid agencies regard as particularly obstructive with regards to debt re-scheduling.

But Dr Stark has claimed the "obvious misperception" current among non- governmental organisations in the UK is "in flagrant contrast with the facts". He said the Christian Aid campaign missed the point by demanding more rapid debt relief.

A source at the charity said yesterday: "We think they are missing the point. Our basic criticism is not over which crumbs this country or that country has given, but that the existing deal for debted countries is wholly inadequate."