Iran tops Bush agenda in talks with German Chancellor Merkel

US President George W. Bush met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a villa outside Berlin on Wednesday for talks expected to largely focus on both leaders' desire to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Bush is eager to resolve the nuclear standoff with Tehran before his presidency ends. In talks with Merkel on Wednesday, and with other European leaders later in the week, Bush will be coaxing them to stand in solidarity against Iran and embrace tougher sanctions if the country does not stop its uranium enrichment program. Global warming, Afghanistan and relations with Russia also were expected topics at Bush's meeting with Merkel at Schloss Meseberg, an elegant guest house of the German government about 80 kilometers north of Berlin. Bush has close ties with Merkel, and has hosted her at his Texas ranch. But their relationship hit a bump at a NATO summit in Romania in April when they split over whether to give Georgia and Ukraine a path to membership in the alliance. The two were all smiles, though, when the American president arrived by helicopter at Schloss Meseberg to attend a social dinner Tuesday evening. As he and his wife, Laura, walked across a cobblestone plaza, a reporter asked him what he liked best about Germany. "The people," Bush said, "followed by the countryside."