WASHINGTON – President Bush won a commitment Wednesday from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (search) to set aside differences and work together for a strong and stable Iraq. "We both agree that we want to look into the future together," Schroeder said.
"It is very important, not just for Iraq, but for the whole of the region, for Germany and therefore for the whole of Europe," Schroeder said.
Receiving a renewed German offer to help train Iraqi police and security forces, Bush said, "I appreciate his efforts to help Iraq grow to be a peaceful and stable and democratic country."
Still, there was no indication that Germany would contribute peacekeeping troops, as it has to Afghanistan, or that Schroeder would retract his support for France's call for a quick end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq (search).
And Schroeder said he did not feel "under time pressure" from a proposed U.S. resolution in the U.N. Security Council (search) designed to draw in troops and financial support for reconstruction.
He described his conversation with Bush as "very open-minded" and "trustful."
In a flurry of diplomacy, French President Jacques Chirac met with Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the same midtown hotel.
"There is not a shadow of a difference of view between the Germans and the French position. This is clear and irrefutable," Chirac said.
"We have also a very similar position with the Russians,' he said.
Striking a conciliatory stance, Chirac said the three leaders intended to consider a proposed U.S. resolution to give the United Nations a role -- but not the leading one -- "in a positive and constructive frame of mind."
Bush faced an uphill task in his drive for an unhurried transition to rule by Iraqis as the difficult reconstruction of postwar Iraq reopened the divide between the United States and the United Nations despite the president's softer rhetorical tone here.
Pushing ahead, Bush met with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and then with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India.
And Secretary of State Colin Powell scheduled a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
The administration hopes to set up a third division of 10,000 to 15,000 peacekeeping troops with contributions from India, Pakistan, Turkey and South Korea, but has not received any offers yet.
Except for handshakes at a NATO meeting last November in Prague and at an economic conference last spring, it was the first formal meeting between Bush and Schroeder in more than a year.
Bush said he had told Schroeder that "we have had differences and they are over, and we're going to work together."
Schroeder, sounding the same theme, told reporters Germany "would like to come in and help with the resources that we do have."
A German diplomat, meanwhile, said Bush had expressed understanding that Germany could not provide troops. The diplomat, who was at the meeting, said the issue of financial contributions was not discussed.
The United States and Germany differed on whether or not to go to war, the diplomat said. But that does not mean that the two countries are now sitting back in their armchairs watching others take care of the difficulties that have now arisen, he said, or the challenges that must now be confronted, he said.
In fact, he said, Germany was prepared to help within the very limited scope of its own "possibilities."
France, Germany and many other nations remained opposed to continued U.S. occupation after Bush's mild defense Tuesday of an unhurried transition to democracy in Iraq.
Chirac insisted earlier on a "realistic timetable" for returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people. While Chirac promised not to veto a stalled U.S. resolution designed to attract more peacekeeping troops, he also insisted steps begin immediately to end the U.S. military occupation.
As Chirac stood against unilateral U.S. action in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) criticized Bush's "pre-emptive" attack on Iraq.
Bush suggested softly "Let us move forward."
A year ago, Bush tried to build a case against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Ultimately, he drew only some support from the Security Council and went to war without direct authority.
Bush's remarks Tuesday did not overcome the gap between the United States and skeptical leaders.
"There is an important role for the U.N. to play," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But, the official said, the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by American L. Paul Bremer "has to get the job done" and whatever resolution the Security Council may adopt must reflect "what really are the facts on the ground."
The official said Bush has touched off a debate about whether the United Nations is capable of dealing with the threats of the 21st century.