Germany's Merkel to visit Mideast, discuss trade

Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Egypt and three Gulf nations next month to promote trade ties and discuss political instability in the Middle East, the German government said Wednesday. From Feb. 3-6, Merkel will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, her spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said. Wilhelm said the trip will have a "strong emphasis on economic links." He ruled out the possibility that Israel and the Palestinian territories could be added to the German leader's itinerary.