Awkward body language betrays the strain between Blair and SchrÃ¶der
Wednesday 16 April 2003
Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder agreed last night to work together to bring democracy to Iraq and to rebuild bridges between Europe and the United States in their first meeting since the war, but failed to mask their differences over the conflict.
Their rather awkward body language at a brief press conference in Hanover showed the strain caused by the Allied invasion had not yet eased.
Mr Schröder declined to endorse the military action by the United States and Britain. He said: "There will always be conflict over what form [the overthrow of a dictator] takes. I hope that the military gain in Iraq can be turned into a political gain for the people of Iraq and for the international community."
And while Mr Blair said the United Nations should have a "key role" in the reconstruction of Iraq, Mr Schröder said it should take place "under the UN umbrella" an idea opposed by the US.
Mr Blair hoped that broad agreement could be reached on the UN's role with the details to be settled later. While admitting there were differences of opinion, the Prime Minister insisted that relations between the two nations were "extremely strong and will remain so".
Last night the two leaders travelled to Athens for a summit of EU leaders today, which will discuss the future of Iraq with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general. The meeting was originally called to allow the signing of the deal under which 10 countries will join the EU in May next year. Their presence at the talks could revive the split over Iraq between "old" and "new" Europe, because several of the new members supported the war.
The Athens summit will also discuss the new blueprint for the EU being drawn up by a convention chaired by the former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
The split between Britain and the United States over how to deal with Syria deepened yesterday. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, refused to endorse Washington's description of Syria as a "rogue state". He said: "We use different descriptions Syria has an opportunity to prove that it's not in that category."
Meanwhile, Jacques Chirac called President Bush for the first time in two months and seemed to scale back his demands for a central UN role in reconstruction. The conversation was "businesslike", according to Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman. An Elysée Palace spokeswoman said France, which opposed the Iraq war, was ready to adopt a "pragmatic approach". Among the issues raised were Iraq's reconstruction, oil and international sanctions against it.
M. Chirac welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. His spokeswoman said he had suggested that the UN should be involved in Iraq "as soon as possible", but did not use the word "central". They agreed that Syria should not shelter Iraqi leaders, but M. Chirac urged that "nothing happens to increase tensions in the region".
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...