Germany rules out sending troops to Syria: minister

19th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere ruled out participation by Berlin in any NATO operation in Syria to stop a bloody crackdown on protesters, in an interview to be published Monday.

"It is the same as in Libya: we will not take part," he told the news weekly Der Spiegel.

De Maiziere said he did not expect the United Nations "to provide a Security Council resolution along the same lines for Syria" as it had in March in the case of Libya authorising military action to protect civilians.

Several European nations -- notably Britain, France, Germany and Portugal -- have joined Washington in pushing for a UN resolution condemning the crackdown but this is opposed by permanent Security Council members China and Russia.

Germany, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, controversially abstained in the March vote on Libya -- the only NATO or European Union member to do so -- and declined to join the NATO-led air war there.

Asked if he had a "guilty conscience" over opting out of the intervention in light of NATO's current supply problems there, De Maiziere criticised the alliance's planning.

"Of course when you start something you must always know how long you can continue," he said, adding that Berlin had rebuffed another US request at a NATO meeting this month for military assistance in Libya.

He added that he saw little likelihood of Germany taking part in any peacekeeping force in Libya if strongman Moamer Kadhafi fell from power.

"An international peacekeeping force is a hypothetical thing which would only be necessary if Libya broke apart and one had to separate the warring parties," he said.

"In a country that is hopefully developing democratically that would neither be necessary nor desirable. I hope that it will not come to a military operation of that kind, because Libya will hopefully remain united and develop democratically."

At the NATO meeting earlier this month in Brussels, De Maiziere said Germany would be ready to consider sending peacekeeping troops to a post-Kadhafi Libya in remarks that met with criticism in Berlin.

© 2011 AFP

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