Hitler Remark Rankles White House

> .c The Associated Press 

> WASHINGTON (AP) - As tensions rise between the United States and Germany
>over differences on Iraq policy, the White House on Thursday called a
>German government minister's comparison of President Bush to Adolf Hitler
>``outrageous and inexplicable.''

> Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin told a small group of labor union
>members on Wednesday that Bush was going after Iraq to divert attention
>from domestic problems. ``That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that,''
>the German newspaper, Schwaebisches Tagblatt, quoted her as saying.

> The minister called the report misleading but did not deny the remarks.

> ``I would regret it very much if this matter were to cast the slightest
>shadow on my respect for the president of the United States,'' she said.

> Opposition conservatives vying to defeat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's
>Social Democrats in Sunday's parliamentary elections called for her

> ``This shows what Schroeder and his Social Democrats really think of our
>American allies,'' said Thomas Goppel, an aide to conservative challenger
>Edmund Stoiber.

> A German government spokesman said Schroeder could not imagine
>Daeubler-Gmelin had meant to liken Bush to Hitler.

> ``If anyone were to compare the American president with a criminal, they
>would have no place in the government,'' Schroeder said on German
>television network ZDF.

> With the balloting approaching, Schroeder has offered repeated and
>outspoken opposition to Bush's drive for action against Iraq's Saddam
>Hussein, creating discord between the two allies.

> Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer sought to downplay the impact on the
>relationship between the countries, but reacted strongly to the minister's

> ``The United States and Germany have a very long and valuable
>relationship, and relations between the people of the United States and
>Germany are very important to Americans,'' Fleischer said. ``But this
>statement by the justice minister is outrageous and inexplicable.''

> In Thursday's editions of The New York Times columnist William Safire
>quoted former German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping as telling a meeting
>in Hamburg last month that Bush wanted to overthrow Saddam to please ``a
>powerful - perhaps overly powerful - Jewish lobby.''

> A spokesman for Scharping, Thorben Albrecht, said the ex-minister spoke at
>the closed-door event but never made the remark.

> Meanwhile, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., warned that ``America bashing'' by
>Schroeder is damaging U.S.-German relations.

> He said that if Schroeder wins re-election and does not show a more
>constructive attitude toward dealing with Iraq, ``then the U.S. Congress
>must seriously consider moving U.S. forces out of Germany and stationing
>them on the territory of other NATO allies who do support the United States.

> ''

> Helms, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is not
>seeking re-election this fall.



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