Schroeder won't block USpush for NATO in Iraq

10th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 June 2004 , SEA ISLAND - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday contradicted his close ally, French President Jacques Chirac, by declaring Berlin will not block a bigger NATO role in Iraq sought by the US. Schroeder, who used this year's Group of Eight (G8) summit to restore ties with US President George W. Bush, made his remarks in direct reply to Chirac with whom he led European opposition to the Iraq war. "We will not block this," said a relaxed looking Schroeder at a news briefing after bei

10 June 2004

SEA ISLAND - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday contradicted his close ally, French President Jacques Chirac, by declaring Berlin will not block a bigger NATO role in Iraq sought by the US.

Schroeder, who used this year's Group of Eight (G8) summit to restore ties with US President George W. Bush, made his remarks in direct reply to Chirac with whom he led European opposition to the Iraq war.

"We will not block this," said a relaxed looking Schroeder at a news briefing after being asked if he accepted the French "no" to a broader NATO mission in Iraq.

Schroeder said there did not appear to be any question of NATO taking over total control in Iraq but rather of using the Alliance to train Iraqi security forces and for other tasks.

NATO is currently limited to providing logistical support to the Polish-run sector in Iraq. Fifteen of NATO's 26 member states have troops serving in Iraq.

Schroeder underlined that Germany would not send troops to Iraq.

On Wednesday, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for an expanded NATO role in Iraq but declined to give details on exactly what they wanted. Concrete proposals are expected at NATO's Istanbul summit 28 and 29 June.

President Chirac promptly rebuffed their call.

"It does not fit with the vocation of NATO to intervene in Iraq," said Chirac in remarks at the G8 summit being hosted by Bush at Sea Island, Georgia in the southern US.

Chirac warned that giving NATO marching orders into Iraq could be deeply misunderstood in the region.

"I will be quite reserved toward this possibility," said the French leader, adding the only way he might consider a NATO role would be if the new Iraqi government requested it.

The Schroeder-Chirac split over NATO in Iraq is significant because it hints at a loosening of the close political friendship forged by both men with their joint opposition to the war.

In past months Franco-German ties have frayed with Schroeder expressing anger over French policy of protecting its industry from German takeovers while backing a high-profile French corporate takeover of a mainly German pharmaceuticals company.

Contrasting Chirac, the German Chancellor used the G8 summit to restore ties with President Bush after their relations were plunged into a deep freeze over the Iraq war.

Bush was so angry over Schroeder's use of an anti-Iraq war platform to win reelection in 2002 that the two leaders did not speak for almost a year.

The ice was broken at last year's G8 summit in Evian, France with a handshake and brief public chat.

At this year's G8 American officials were almost gushing over a Schroeder-Bush meeting that went into overtime and was termed "very warm."

Asked about the sudden praise he was getting from the Bush administration, the Chancellor smiled and said: "It's nice that this is what's being talked about."

"We know we have to depend on each other and sometimes having disagreements is just a part of this," said Schroeder, adding that the key to good German-American ties was that both nations had a deep set of shared values.

"The (U.S.) is the only remaining superpower and one must learn how to deal with that and the last six months have shown that we can do this," Schroeder said.

In a further Schroeder-Chirac contrast, the German leader underlined that he was attending the funeral in Washington on Friday of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

"I want to pay my respects to a president who did a great deal for German unification," said Schroeder.

President Chirac has declined to attend the Reagan funeral and became testy when French reporters asked him why he was not going.

DPA

Subject: German news

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