12 January 2004
BERLIN – The German government – which opposed the Iraq war – on Monday spotlighted assertions by former US treasury secretary Paul O’Neill that Washington had no evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction prior to the conflict.
“The German government was against the Iraq war for good reasons,” said Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s chief spokesman, Walter Lindner, when asked about O’Neill’s remarks at a news briefing.
Lindner added: “What’s relevant for us is that we opposed the war. What was known when in Washington will have to be dealt with by historians.”
The main thing now was to back moves for stability and peace in the entire Mideast, stressed Lindner.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was a leading European Iraq war opponent and German ties with the US were badly strained over the issue.
O’Neill, who was sacked by Bush in 2002, said in a Time magazine interview that no proof was ever presented on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction during the nearly two years he served in the US National Security Council.
“In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,” O’Neill told Time.
“There were allegations and assertions by people,” said O’Neill in the current issue of Time.
“But I’ve been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions,” he said.
“To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence,” he said.
O’Neill supplied extensive information for a new book titled “The Price of Loyalty” by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Ron Suskind which traces the treasury secretary’s rise and fall.
Subject: German news