Powell rings Fischer for clarification on Iraq

14th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

14 October 2004, BERLIN - A senior German minister 's comments, which appeared to soften Berlin's hardline opposition to sending troops to Iraq sparked a round of diplomatic activity across the Atlantic.

14 October 2004

BERLIN - A senior German minister 's comments, which appeared to soften Berlin's hardline opposition to sending troops to Iraq sparked a round of diplomatic activity across the Atlantic.

This followed remarks in a newspaper interview by German Defence Minister Peter Struck in which he said he could not rule out German troops being dispatched to Iraq at some point.

While Struck sought to clarify his remarks and Berlin insisted that there had not been a change in its stance on Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to establish whether Germany had altered its position.

"And the foreign minister said, 'No, we haven't,'" said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.  

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday moved rapidly to rein in Struck for comments suggesting Berlin might send troops to Iraq if conditions improve.

"Nobody in the German government - including the defence minister - is thinking about changing the position on Iraq," said Schroeder, as quoted by officials after a cabinet meeting.

Underlining the chancellor's comments, government spokesman Thomas Steg later told reporters: "No German soldiers will go to Iraq."

After Schroeder's clarification, Boucher said US officials concluded Struck's comments were consistent with the chancellor's.

With just three weeks to go until US presidential elections, Struck in his interview also welcomed a proposal by President George W. Bush's rival, Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, for an international summit aimed at reconstruction of Iraq.

The idea is "very reasonable", he said, adding that the situation in Iraq "could only be settled by all involved coming together at one table".

Asked if this meant Germany was taken sides in the US election, a foreign ministry spokesman would only say: "We will not comment on what is happening in the US elections."

Schroeder strongly opposed the Iraq war and has repeatedly said he will not send troops to the country.

Germany, which strongly opposed the US-led war in the Gulf, is currently helping to train Iraqi police but refuses to send officers to Iraq and courses are run in the United Arab Emirates.

Steg said Germany's Iraq involvement also included sending armoured "Fuchs" vehicles and used trucks to Baghdad's armed forces and that Berlin might send water supply experts to Iraq if the security situation improved.

[Copyright DPA with Expatica]

Subject: German news
 

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