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Germany Rejects Peacekeeper Idea

Poland had suggested Iraq deployment under a three-nation corps set up with Denmark.

May 08, 2003|From Associated Press

BERLIN — Germany on Wednesday rejected a Polish proposal to join with Denmark in sending members of a three-nation corps for peacekeeping duty in Iraq. But it did not rule out sending troops under a United Nations or NATO umbrella.

Poland's defense minister suggested in Washington this week that a Polish-led peacekeeping force in Iraq be built around the corps, which was set up after Poland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1999.

Poland also pushed for U.N. authorization for the force -- a move apparently designed to help Germany, a staunch opponent of the war, get aboard.

But the proposal angered the German government, which said it was not consulted.

"A participation of German soldiers is not being considered, and it will not happen," a spokesman for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.

In Copenhagen later Wednesday, German Defense Minister Peter Struck downplayed the differences after a previously planned meeting with the Polish minister, Jerzy Szmajdzinski, and their Danish counterpart, Svend Aage Jensby.

The three ministers agreed that Poland can send its troops from the joint corps to Iraq, but no Germans or Danes.

In Berlin, German Defense Ministry spokesman Norbert Bicher said the Polish-German-Danish corps was not yet ready to take on foreign missions. But a senior lawmaker in Schroeder's Social Democratic Party said Germany's refusal was simply in line with its opposition to the Iraq war from the start.

"I remain convinced that this whole Iraq war was an undesirable development and that our nonparticipation was right," Gernot Erler told reporters. "That is why I also find it problematic to take part in security tasks afterward."

Schroeder's spokesman, Bela Anda, left open the possibility that Germany could send peacekeeping troops to Iraq under different circumstances, such as under a NATO or U.N. mandate.

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