Schroeder slaps downminister - no troops for Iraq

13th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 October 2004, BERLIN/POIANA BRASOV - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday reined in Germany's defence minister 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."

13 October 2004

BERLIN/POIANA BRASOV - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday reined in Germany's defence minister 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."

Defence Minister Peter Struck, who is currently at a NATO meeting in Romania, earlier Wednesday had tried to stand by his remarks made in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper.

"I would at present rule it out," said Struck in remarks at the meeting, adding, however, that Germany's position on deploying troops to Iraq might be reconsidered in coming years.

This mirrors what Struck said in the interview also published Wednesday: "I rule out the deployment of German soldiers to Iraq at the present time, but generally, no one can anticipate the developments in the country enough to be able to make hard-and-fast statements."

The paper described this as a German "U-turn on Iraq force deployment".

Schroeder phoned with Struck earlier in the day to make clear German policy before discussing it at a Berlin cabinet meeting, said Steg.

With just three weeks to go until U.S. presidential elections, Struck in his interview also welcomed Democratic Party candidate John Kerry's idea 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 U.S. election, a foreign ministry spokesman would only say: "We will not comment on what is happening in the U.S. elections."

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

Germany is providing Iraqi police training 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.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

0 Comments To This Article