Schroder's Big Chill

"This is where he sat and lied to me," a furious George W. Bush recently told a visiting European head of state. "He" is German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, with whom Bush believed he had a deal--private acquiescence on Iraq in return for Bush's not pressing for public support in the run-up to last September's German elections. Everyone knows what happened instead. The plain-speaking Texan says he harbors no grudges against Germans or Germany. But his aversion to the German leader is deep, personal and abiding. "Schroder is no longer welcome here," the president apparently told Jurgen Schrempp, DaimlerChrysler's chairman, at a recent White House event, according to NEWSWEEK sources.

Attempting to improve relations, Schroder met with Secretary of State Colin Powell last Friday and agreed to U.S. demands that U.N. sanctions on Iraq be lifted. But the last one-on-one contact the chancellor had with Bush himself was a phone call in October, during which Bush reportedly listened in icy silence before lecturing the German leader on "trust" and "reliability" between allies. And after one German minister likened him to Hitler, Bush flatly refused to take Schroder's call. Would the pair meet at upcoming summits in St. Petersburg and Evian? No time, said Powell before running off to a high-visibility visit with opposition leader Angela Merkel, a likely challenger for chancellor in 2006. The big chill looks set to last.

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