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Updated: 10-Apr-2003
   

SHAPE News Morning Update

10 April 2003

AFGHANISTAN

  • NATO looking at options for role in Afghanistan

IRAQ

  • Iraq’s UN ambassador says “the game is over” - and that means the war is over
  • Russian spokesman says Saddam Hussein not at Russian Embassy
  • Arab media subdued, incredulous by Iraqi elation at fall of Baghdad

NATO

  • No consensus yet on Iraq role for NATO says Lord Robertson

EU

  • No consensus on EU defence integration says diplomats

BALKANS

  • Report says Russia to pull peacekeepers from Balkans, NATO confirms intention
  • Serbs protest UN’s transfer of power in Kosovo

AFGHANISTAN

  • NATO is looking at ways it might expand its role in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said on Wednesday in Brussels. “What is being considered at this very minute is what greater help NATO can give to countries which want to take over ISAF in Kabul,” Lord Robertson told reporters, without elaborating, after unveiling an exhibition about weapons of mass destruction. “That is something that is under very urgent consideration at the present moment. The (NATO) council will make a decision in due course as to what else can be offered.” (Reuters 091721 GMT Apr 03)

IRAQ

  • With the fall of Baghdad, Iraq’s U.N. ambassador declared “the game is over” - and became the first Iraqi official to concede defeat in the U.S.-led war. Mohammed Al-Douri expressed hope Wednesday that the Iraqi people will now be able to live in peace. Al-Douri was asked what he meant when he said “the game is over.” “The war,” he responded. In an AP interview Wednesday night, Al-Douri said he will continue to work at the United Nations and had no intention of defecting. “Defecting from who?” he asked. “I think the government has already defected. There is no more Iraqi government to be defected from.” (AP 100153 Apr 03)

  • Russian officials denied what state-run television said Wednesday were Western media reports that Saddam Hussein took refuge at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad, saying they “do not correspond with reality.” “Such statements absolutely do not and cannot correspond with reality,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said on Channel One television. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suggested Wednesday that Saddam might have taken shelter at the Russian embassy in Baghdad as part of a U.S.-Russian deal. “Why did the Russian ambassador return to Baghdad? What did Condoleezza Rice do in Moscow? Is Saddam Hussein in the Russian embassy in Baghdad?” Berri told reporters when asked to comment on developments in the U.S.-led war on Iraq. (AP 091756 Apr 03)

  • Some Arab journalists were subdued and others incredulous as they watched Iraqis cheering the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad. “The surreal scene this afternoon was unthinkable until yesterday,” said Maher Abdullah, a reporter with Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera. One Kuwaiti Television presenter called the Iraqis’ elation and their thanks to U.S.-led troops who rolled into the capital a “slap in the face” to Arabs who had sided with Saddam. On Abu Dhabi TV on Wednesday night, the anchor told his audience: “This may be the last time we bring you the reports under the headline, ‘On the Front Line.’ We wish you and the Iraqis a life without wars.” A headline from Thursday’s early edition of Egypt’s al-Gomhuria newspaper said: “Saddam deceived the Iraqis and the Arabs, and Baghdad fell in seconds.” (AP 100237 Apr 03)

NATO

  • NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said on Wednesday that there was still no consensus among the 19 allies on whether NATO should have a role in post-war Iraq. “I did not hear any dissent but there is no consensus yet,” Lord Robertson told reporters. He said events in Iraq were moving rapidly and it was premature to speculate about ways NATO might be involved. “As and when we see developments becoming clearer, then the NATO council will obviously want to look and see where NATO might, if it is wanted, become involved in post-conflict Iraq,” he added. (Reuters 091633 GMT Apr 03)

EU

  • Four European Union states -- France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg -- due to hold a summit on defence integration at the end of April are far from reaching consensus on how to proceed, diplomats said on Wednesday in Brussels. Belgium has presented its partners with an ambitious “reflection paper” that goes beyond existing EU plans for defence, including a European crisis management and peacekeeping force. But at a meeting of officials preparing the April 29 summit, the diplomats said Germany’s reaction to the idea was lukewarm and France also had reservations on some aspects. “It was a meeting to sound out ideas, but there is no agreement at all yet,” one diplomat said. “There is more reticence on the German side than the French,” he added. (Reuters 091914 GMT Apr 03)

BALKANS

  • A news agency quoted an unnamed high-level Defense Ministry official as saying Wednesday that Russia will pull its peacekeeping troops out of the Balkans, and a NATO official confirmed that Moscow has indicated it wants to take its troops out. Citing financial concerns and peace in the Balkans, the official said the Russian military has made a final decision to withdraw its peacekeeping forces from Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina and an official announcement will be made soon, the Interfax news agency reported. It did not identify its source. A NATO official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Russians have indicated they want to pull their troops out. Nobody was available for comment at the Russian Defense Ministry after regular office hours. The Russian official said that there is no threat of war in the Balkans, and that the US $25 million Russia spends annually to maintain the troops there would be better spent on the cash-strapped military at home, Interfax reported. According to Interfax, the Russian official said Russia no longer has a strategic interest in the region, asserting that Russia sent peacekeepers to Kosovo to defend Serbs living there, but that few Serbs remain. The official also said Kosovo is moving toward independence and claimed it will become a center for terrorism and drug trafficking. The Russian official did not say when the withdrawal would begin but that only technical questions remained and that it would take about a month. The NATO official said the timeframe would be months rather than weeks. (AP 092131 Apr 03)

  • More than 1,000 Serbs protested Wednesday the decision by the UN administration in Kosovo to transfer more powers to the province’s mainly ethnic Albanian institutions. Addressing the crowd in the town of Gracanica just outside Pristina, Milan Ivanovic, a hardline Serb leader, asked for the return of Serbian police and army in Kosovo instead of giving more power to Kosovo’s institution. (AP 091654 Apr 03)

 



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