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No German troops to go to Iraq

Published on 02/04/2004

2 April 2004

BRUSSELS – Germany will not send troops to Iraq, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer reaffirmed Friday, adding that NATO’s key task was to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Fischer, speaking after a first-ever joint meeting of NATO’s 26 new and old member states, said alliance discussions had focused on Afghanistan.

Even US Secretary of State Colin Powell had emphasised that “Afghanistan is priority number one for the alliance,” Fischer said.

NATO’s task in Afghanistan was especially important given elections in the country in September, Fischer said.

NATO governments are under pressure to provide more troops to establish additional military Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) needed to help the Afghan authorities exercise their authority beyond Kabul and prepare for elections.

Adding to NATOs challenges, the US is now pressing the alliance to strengthen its role in Iraq.

Alliance ministers met for talks on new challenges after participating in an emotionally-charged ceremony marking the entry of seven ex-Soviet bloc nations into the once fiercely anti-communist military organisation.

Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are now full-fledged member of NATO.

Subject: German news