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Berlin mulls Iraq humanitarian role

15 January 2004

BERLIN – Germany is considering a humanitarian role in Iraq amid reports that the German armed forces might be asked to help.

“We have no intention of changing our policy on Iraq, but we are determined to provide humanitarian assistance, especially to those who are injured,” Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at reception for his ruling Social Democratic Party.

The remarks came as a report in Thursday’s editions of Die Welt newspaper quoted Schroeder as telling the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee that German Medevac aerial hospital aircraft could be dispatched to Iraq.

Schroeder’s spokesman Bela Anda declined to confirm or deny the report.

“The German government maintains its commitment to the idea that Germany should not be involved in a military operation,” Anda said.

“However, should a legitimized Iraqi government, with the backing of a United Nations mandate, ask Germany for humanitarian assistance, a Bundestag resolution to that effect would be necessary.”

Schroeder reportedly told the parliamentary panel he was prepared to “go out on a limb” to provide more support to Britain, Poland and other countries which have openly supported the Iraq war from the start.

The newspaper quoted him as saying that if the UN asked NATO to help in Iraq, then “we would not hinder NATO in its role”.

Germany was a staunch opponent of the war. Schroeder’s moves come amid signs the United States is softening its stance on the issue of Iraq reconstruction contracts.

At the Americas summit in Mexico, US President George W. Bush said Canada would be allowed to bid on a second round of US-funded contracts.

The statement marked a shift from an earlier policy that excluded Canada and other countries that had not supported the war from getting such contracts.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman indicated there could be “new developments with respect to other countries” as well.

Meanwhile a senior German official said Thursday that France, which strongly opposed the Iraq war, plans to join Germany and Japan in helping train Iraqi police.

Germany, which also opposed the war, agreed last year to provide training for Iraqi police at camps in the United Arab Emirates.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Berlin had been contacted by Paris and Tokyo with offers to assist in police


Final details of what is expected to be a Franco-German-Japanese police training mission will be hammered out early next month, the official said.

German Interior Minister Otto Schily will visit the UAE in the coming weeks to assess needs for the training camp and determine how many Iraqi police can be trained.

Under current plans, the US will give basic training to police recruits in Iraq before sending them on to the Franco-German-Japanese school.

Unlike Germany and France, Japan did not oppose the Iraq war and is due to send about 1,000 troops to Iraq to help with rebuilding and humanitarian assistance.



Subject: German news