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By Scott Stearns
Washington
10 November 2007

President Bush is hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his Texas ranch. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the two leaders are expected to discuss Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and President Bush in Texas
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and President Bush in Texas
The president and Mrs. Bush welcomed Chancellor Merkel and her husband to their central Texas ranch with a meal of pecan-smoked tenderloin, sautéed mushrooms, and green chili and cheese grits soufflé.

President Bush says he is looking forward to constructive talks Saturday and a chance to relax and visit. Chancellor Merkel thanked the president and First Lady for their invitation and said their ranch has a wonderful atmosphere.

U.S. National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe says the two leaders are expected to discuss Kosovo, Burma, and Iran.

"They will discuss the need for Iran to suspend its nuclear activity as well as discuss the importance of remaining committed to Afghanistan. President Bush notes Chancellor Merkel's recent trip to Afghanistan and appreciates the German troop contribution there and urges our NATO allies to continue to help the Afghan people as they rebuild their country and fight extremism there," he said.

Johndroe says the president and chancellor will also discuss the need for elections in Lebanon free from Syrian interference as well as climate change and world trade talks.

He says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will brief Chancellor Merkel on her recent trip to the Middle East and talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on a planned peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland that could come later this month.

Johndroe says the German leader knows that a stable and secure Iraq is in the interest of the entire world and the two leaders will discuss efforts at political reconciliation within the government in Baghdad.

President Bush and Chancellor Merkel will take questions from reporters following their Saturday talks.

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