Fischer rules out Middle East peace role for Nato

21st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 April 2005, VILNIUS - Speaking at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Vilnius, German foreign minister Joschka Fischer ruled out any "active" Nato role in current international Middle East peace efforts, saying the issue was not under discussion in the alliance.

21 April 2005

VILNIUS - Speaking at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Vilnius, German foreign minister Joschka Fischer ruled out any "active" Nato role in current international Middle East peace efforts, saying the issue was not under discussion in the alliance.

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer also rejected an immediate military role for the 26-nation alliance in securing Middle East peace - but said future action in the region was not being ruled out.

"Nato is not going to intervene" in Middle East peace efforts, Scheffer told reporters on Thursday, during the second day of a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Vilnius.

The alliance had "no ambition" to enter current peace negotiations within the diplomatic 'Quartet' which includes the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, he said.

Nato troops would not be deployed to help in Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, Scheffer added.

But the Nato chief painted a "virtual scenario" under which the alliance could act in the region once there was a sustainable and comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Such an engagement by the alliance was conditional on a request being made by parties in the region and under a UN mandate, he underlined.

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also ruled out any "active" Nato role in current international Middle East peace efforts.

The issue was not under discussion in the alliance, Fischer said after ministers held a debate on the Middle East late on Wednesday night.

It was "too early" to talk of Nato operations in the region, he said, adding, however, that a Nato role could not be excluded as far as stabilisation and security guarantees were concerned.

Nato officials said while ministers' focus was not on defining a "concrete role" for the alliance in the Middle East, it was the first time that Nato had engaged in detailed talks on the region.

"It was the most political discussion in Nato that I have ever seen," the official said, adding that the talks were a sign that the military alliance was now becoming a forum for "free-flowing" political debate between the US and Europe.

The two-day meeting in Vilnius - the first time the alliance is meeting in a former Soviet state - is looking at ways of making Nato a key forum for transatlantic debate.

Calls for a revamp of Nato were made earlier this year by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and later picked up by US president George W. Bush during a fence-mending visit to Nato and EU headquarters in February.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article