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Thursday, February 24

Bush dodges unscripted meeting with Germans, possible terrorist threat

With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans

During his trip to Germany on Wednesday, the main highlight of George W. Bush's trip was meant to be a "town hall"-style meeting with average Germans. But with the German government unwilling to permit a scripted event with questions approved in advance, the White House has quietly put the event on ice. Was Bush afraid the event might focus on prickly questions about Iraq and Iran rather than the rosy future he's been touting in Europe this week?

US President George W. Bush arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday morning. He won't be meeting with the people here, but he will be meeting with a handpicked bunch of Germany's future business and political leaders.

The much-touted American-style "town hall" meeting the White House has been planning with "normal Germans" of everyday walks of life will be missing during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon. A few weeks ago, the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees, students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations -- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief trip to Germany.


News about Mainz causes some security jitters
Arrest of terror suspects, explosion at German military base precede Bush's visit to the city

11. Februar 2005 F.A.Z. Weekly. Mainz, the central German city on the Rhine, is the home of Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the printing press, and raucous Mardi Gras celebrations. But since President George W. Bush decided in January to visit the city on Feb. 23, Mainz has also become known for news that has raised some worries about security.

The latest incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon, when an explosion rocked a German military base in the city. The blast in a food lab killed one solider and injured two.

Immediately after the explosion, German Defense Minister Peter Struck rushed to the scene and addressed the issue that he said was particularly important: the security of the city that Bush plans to visit. He said officials had definitely ruled out an attack as a source of the blast. Instead, the investigation is focusing on the possibility that natural gas triggered the explosion, officials said. ”The German military has suffered a tragic accident,” Struck said.


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