Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Queen calls for reconciliation between UK, Germany

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

The Queen Tuesday used the occasion of a state visit to Germany to say that she recognized the "appalling suffering of war on both sides."

Speaking at a banquet hosted by President Horst Kohler, the Queen shrugged off demands by the mass-circulation tabloid Bild that she say sorry for the destruction of Dresden by allied bombers.

Instead she spoke of the need for "reconciliation" between Britain and Germany.

"In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognize how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945," she said.

"It is difficult for someone of my generation to over-emphasize this," she added, urging both countries to look beyond "simplistic stereotypes."

Before her arrival in Berlin Tuesday for a three-day visit, there was speculation in some sections of the media here that she might apologize. Specifically, Bild last week demanded that she say sorry for the "massacre" of civilians in Dresden and other cities.

The center-left government did not give the demand its support.

Among the sometimes embarrassingly modest crowds that turned up to meet her Tuesday, the war did not appear to be a theme -- at least not the one against Germany.

"She's more sympathetic than Tony Blair," said Frank Stephan, a 26-year-old history student at Berlin's Humboldt University.

"No one likes Blair here because of the war in Iraq. We find his solidarity with the Bush administration hard to understand," he said.

Yesterday, the Queen was to open a conference on climate change, amid speculation that she has complained to Tony Blair about the role of the US in global warming.

Meanwhile, Bild on Tuesday printed its own poster to accompany the visit with the headline "Welcome Your Majesty."

It urged readers to put it in their windows.

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