France opposed to NATO role of ‘global policeman’
VILNIUS, April 21 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier rejected the idea of NATO as "the world's policeman" Thursday, amid suggestions the alliance could consider new roles in the Middle East or Darfur.
Barnier, speaking in the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Vilnius, also underlined the independence of the European Union to take action where it feels appropriate.
His comments came after the ministers discussed the Middle East, albeit while insisting there is no immediate role for NATO. A senior US official said the ministers also would discuss help for peacekeepers in troubled Sudan.
“NATO does not have a vocation to be the world’s policeman,” the French foreign minister told reporters.
Citing Sudan, he made it clear that Paris would prefer an EU role to a NATO one. “I think there is a role for the EU not in the context of sending soldiers,” but in terms of helping and funding an African Union effort to deal with the Darfur crisis.
On Wednesday, a senior US State Department official said the NATO meeting would discuss Sudan, which is emerging from two decades of civil war in the south but is still plagued by violence in the western region of Darfur.
Specifically, he referred to the possibility of NATO providing a 3,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force with assistance in planning, logistics, transportation and command and control.
The African Union has been trying to mediate an end to more than two years of conflict between Khartoum and ethnic minority rebels in Darfur. The fighting has resulted in some 300,000 deaths and has forced 2.4 million people from their homes.
The NATO ministers also discussed the Middle East Wednesday evening. An official said afterwards that all NATO countries agree the alliance would be ready to consider a Middle East role if asked for in the context of a peace accord.
Subject: French News