Steinmeier defends German spy presence in Baghdad

20th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 January 2006, BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier defended Friday the wartime presence in Baghdad of two German intelligence agents in 2003, saying they had operated under clear rules.

20 January 2006

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier defended Friday the wartime presence in Baghdad of two German intelligence agents in 2003, saying they had operated under clear rules.

Germany was shaken a week ago by allegations, strongly denied by Steinmeier, that the BND foreign intelligence service agents may have helped U.S. aircraft to aim bombs during the attack on Baghdad.

In a debate in the German parliament, he said: "It's clear that the BND was required to stick to the rules. There was a clear instruction to provide no support to operative fighting activity."

The agents had observed those instructions. He added that the fact that Germany had not been hit by any terrorist attack since 2001 was partly luck but also to the credit of its intelligence services.

Steinmeier appealed to the Bundestag chamber not to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the BND activities.

"I'm concerned that a one-year-long inquiry could encourage anti-U.S. and anti-NATO sentiment in this country," he said.

The three opposition parties, the Free Democrats (FDP), Greens and Left Party, have all suggested such an inquiry, but the FDP and Greens were still at odds Friday over its proposed terms of reference.

DPA

Subject: German news

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