Schroeder: Iraq elections 'only small progress'

9th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 February 2005 , BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday that Iraq's elections marked "only small progress" and again ruled out any use of military force against Iran's nuclear facility. Schroeder said he told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at talks in Berlin last week that Germany could bolster aid in training Iraqi police at bases in the United Arab Emirates and provide help for building Iraq's civil structures. "But I told our American friends clearly there is a line whic

9 February 2005

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday that Iraq's elections marked "only small progress" and again ruled out any use of military force against Iran's nuclear facility.

Schroeder said he told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at talks in Berlin last week that Germany could bolster aid in training Iraqi police at bases in the United Arab Emirates and provide help for building Iraq's civil structures.

"But I told our American friends clearly there is a line which I don't even think about crossing: German soldiers will not be in Iraq as long as we are in power," said Schroeder to applause of his Social Democrats (SPD) at a regional election rally in Cologne.

Schroeder made only terse comments on Iraqi elections last month.

"The elections were progress - but only small progress," he said.

Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war and Schroeder said allegations this stance had meant Berlin was destroying NATO and transatlantic relations had all been wrong.

"In the meantime it's clear that our policy of self-confidence ... was right," Schroeder said, adding that Germany remained a faithful member of NATO.

Turning to Iran, Schroeder welcomed comments by Rice that a diplomatic solution was still possible with Teheran.

"We do not want military intervention," said the Chancellor.

Schroeder is due to meet US President George W. Bush for a one-day summit in Mainz, Germany on 23 February as part of a wider European trip.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday pressed NATO governments to participate in efforts to stabilise Iraq, saying a new collective effort by the Alliance must be ready in time for Bush's visit to Europe later this month.

NATO diplomats said Rice and Alliance secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer agreed in bilateral discussions that NATO must come up with "key deliverables" at a summit to be attended by the U.S. president on 22 Feburary in Brussels.

"The key is that all 26 NATO allies must participate in Iraq," a NATO diplomat said, adding that such contributions could vary according to each country's priorities.

Governments could either help in expanding NATO's current 100-strong training mission in Iraq, continue police and security personnel training outside the country or even help by providing money to the NATO trust fund for Alliance activities in Iraq.

France, Germany and other nations that opposed the US-led war in Iraq remain reluctant to send instructors to the country. Germany is, however, training Iraqi police and security officials in Abu Dhabi.

Similar US demands that NATO allies must expand their security forces training operation in Iraq are expected to be delivered later on Wednesday by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a meeting of the Alliance's defence chiefs in Nice.

Rice, on her first foreign trip as Secretary of State, is urging NATO allies to look to the future rather than focusing on past transatlantic differences over the Iraq war.

She will take her message of transatlantic reconciliation to the European Union later on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Rice will be in Luxembourg to meet the current EU presidency. EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana is also expected to attend the meeting.

There is no formal agenda for Rice's first meeting with NATO allies but discussions are focusing on Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

NATO governments are poised to announce an expansion of their peace and reconstructions teams (PRTs) in the west of Afghanistan.

Rice's discussions with Commission chief Barroso will also look at ways of healing wounds inflicted by the Iraq war. But differences over policy towards Iran are also expected to be on the agenda.

The Commission has announced EUR 200 million in aid for Iraq while EU governments are working on a first-ever collective Union operation to train Iraqi judges, prison officials and policemen. The formation will, however, take place outside Iraq.

 DPA

Subject: German news

 

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