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Germany hosts Bush with eye on his successor
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The catchword of the two-day German visit by US President George W. Bush is "farewell" and people consequently don't expect much from it. What his German hosts care about at the moment is how Bush's successor is going to interact with Europe.

Instead of hosting Bush in the German capital, German Chancellor Angela Merkel chose the secluded venue of Schloss Meseberg, the German government guest house some 70 km north of Berlin, for security reasons, German media said.

At the joint press conference at the end of the visit, both leaders talked about a laundry list of issues at their discussions Wednesday morning, including Iran, Iraq, Middle East peace, Afghanistan, climate change, the Doha round trade talks and the upcoming G-8 summit in Japan.

As expected, they announced nothing new and substantial.

Bush said he appreciated the "strong relations" with Germany and thanked Merkel for her friendship.

Merkel said she and Bush enjoyed "a relationship characterized by friendship." "It's a direct and candid relationship," she added.

Despite frequent spats, for example on climate change, "there was always a constructive way forward," Merkel said.

Alliance based on necessity 

Merkel has been given much credit for patching up the frosty relations between Berlin and Washington which reached a low point after the Iraq War.

For the German chancellor, a better relationship with Bush is not only because of their common conservative political background, but also a necessity to better serve Germany's interests.

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