By Jon Schroeder
Killeen Daily Herald
WEST FORT HOOD – Flying a small German flag from the pilot's window, an Airbus with yellow, red and black stripes and emblazoned with the words "Bundes Republik Deutschland" pulled up Friday to sit next to Air Force One on Robert Gray Army Airfield, where it's parked for the weekend.
Outside her plane, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Brig. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim, Sgt. 1st Class Bera Aiwasan of the 89th Military Police Brigade's 26th Military Police Company and four German dignitaries before climbing aboard a helicopter bound for President Bush's ranch in Crawford.
Merkel will stay there through Saturday, discussing the administration's call for tough new sanctions against Iran, if the Iranians refuse to give up their nuclear program, according to Associated Press reports.
Other topics of conversation will include global warming, Middle East peace plans, Kosovo's future status, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Aiwasan, who grew up in Germany and joined the U.S. military only months after becoming a naturalized citizen, said meeting Merkel on American soil is her third favorite American experience – behind becoming a citizen and meeting then-Vice President Dan Quayle.
Local German resident Patrick Pfeifer said Thursday that he was looking forward to Merkel's visit.
Pfeifer, who owns the German Bakery and Deli in Harker Heights, baked assorted pastries, cakes, danishes and cinnamon rolls to be taken by the German Texans Society to Bush's ranch Friday. He said he's glad that the U.S. and German leaders are communicating.
"There's great potential if they work together," Pfeifer said. "I think it's a good thing if they meet and talk."
Pfeifer's wife, Diana, who moved with him to the United States from Germany in 1999, said she hopes Merkel will ask the president "why it's so hard for us to get a green card."
She said she must leave the country every two years in order to stay on a five-year E2 visa. Although Patrick Pfeifer said there's a lottery every year for 50,000 green cards, his best option for citizenship is simply to wait until his children become 21 and can sponsor their parents.
Merkel, who took office in 2005, is the second European dignitary Bush has hosted recently, according to AP. He met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.
"In Texas, when you invite somebody to your home, it's an expression of warmth and respect, and that's how I feel about Chancellor Merkel," Bush said after jumping out of his truck to welcome Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, at the property's helipad, according to AP.
"Already a first glance of the area shows that this is indeed a wonderful place," Merkel replied.
Contact Jon Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-0428