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Official's Comment Stirs German Furor

September 04, 2004|From Reuters

BERLIN — A German government minister came under criticism Friday for labeling the Iraq war "a true crime."

Germany's conservative opposition urged Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to reprimand Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, minister for economic cooperation and development.

Wieczorek-Zeul said in a speech late Wednesday that the Iraq war had caused terrible human suffering.

"That is a true crime," said the left-wing member of Schroeder's Social Democrats, known as the SPD.

Leaders of the opposition Christian Democrats, or CDU, who supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, called on Wieczorek-Zeul to retract the remarks and for Schroeder to silence her.

"The chancellor needs to put a muzzle on Wieczorek-Zeul and her anti-American attacks," said Christian Ruck, a CDU deputy.

Government officials and SPD deputies defended Wieczorek-Zeul's remarks.

Schroeder had criticized U.S. steps against Iraq right until the war started. In his 2002 reelection campaign, he said an attack on Iraq would "set ablaze" the Middle East.

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