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Schroeder Starts Trip to US

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder left Berlin on Sunday for a brief visit to the United States.

Schroeder will meet US President George W. Bush on Monday to focus on the European Union's future, the Middle East peace process, assistance to poor countries and a dispute over UN reform.

Washington has rejected a plan by Germany, Brazil, India and Japan to become permanent members of the UN Security Council and proposed that "two or so" countries, join as permanent members.

Germany favors a plan that would enlarge the council to 25 seats, including six new permanent and four rotating seats. Japan, Brazil, India and Germany formed a lobbying group in New York aimed at helping each other gain permanent seats on the Security Council.

Schroeder's visit to the United States, cut short by one day, comes against the backdrop that he is seeking an early election. The chancellor has said he would start a constitutional process on July 1.

Germany's polls show that support for Schroeder is lagging behind that of opposition Christian Democratic Union candidate Angela Merkel. German media reported that this may be Schroeder's last official visit to the United States.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2005)

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