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Updated: 29-Jan-2003

SHAPE News Morning Update

29 January 2003


  • NATO impasse over Iraq war support set to drag on
  • Russian president raises specter of Russia’s taking tougher line on Iraq; impatience with Saddam grows
  • EU mission on Iraq to Middle East starts on Sunday
  • U.S. Defense official: Iraq, al-Qaida have 10-year ties
  • U.S. seeking participation of Slovak chemical warfare unit in case of war


  • Norway enters development agreement for Eurofighter


  • NATO refuses to hand over Bosnia terror suspect


  • The deadlock in NATO over whether to prepare supporting measures for any U.S.-led war on Iraq is unlikely to be broken at this week’s meeting of alliance ambassadors, diplomats said on Tuesday in Brussels. “I would expect the issue to come up, but I don’t think people should hope for a major decision tomorrow, because some countries don’t think it’s time yet,” one diplomat said. The 19-nation council is due to meet on Wednesday morning. “The situation in New York hasn’t changed,” a diplomat said. “Talking about this at NATO only makes sense if an attack is imminent, and it’s not,” he added. (Reuters 281802 GMT Jan 03)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow, which has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis, “may change its position” if Baghdad hampers UN weapons inspectors. The comments on Tuesday - particularly from Russia, Iraq’s most powerful ally - were signs of growing international impatience with Saddam Hussein a day after chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered his toughest assessment yet of Baghdad’s level of compliance. (AP 290218 Jan 03)

  • Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou travels to four Middle East countries from Sunday on a European Union mission to avert war in Iraq. Papandreou, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, will visit Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt over three days, a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters on Tuesday in Athens. The official said Papandreou also planned to visit Israel as well as talks with Palestinian officials on February 12 and 13. (Reuters 281615 GMT Jan 03)

  • While they may have ideological differences, Iraq and the al-Qaida terror network have had ties for ten years, a top U.S. Defense Department official said Tuesday in Rabat. Peter Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said there were “many contacts” between Iraq and al-Qaida on biological and chemical weapons. “There is a unanimous view in the American government and the intelligence community that there have been links between Iraq and al-Qaida for ten years,” Rodman told reporters in Morocco’s capital during a swing through north Africa. He did not provide details. (AP 282230 Jan 03)

  • The United States has requested that Slovakia deploy its renowned chemical warfare unit in possible military action against Iraq, a newspaper reported Tuesday, citing Defense Ministry sources. According to the report in Pravda, a major Slovak daily, U.S. Ambassador Ronald Weiser made the request to Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda on Sunday. Government officials here have refused to comment on the Pravda report, or say what Washington’s request involves. Prime Minister Dzurinda was expected to present the details of the request to the leaders of the parliamentary parties on Wednesday. Any decision to deploy a military unit would require parliamentary approval. (AP 281606 Jan 03)


  • Norway announced a five-year agreement on Tuesday to cooperate on the development of the Eurofighter. However, Norway stressed that the deal does not mean it has decided which aircraft it will select in 2008 to replace its aging F-16s. (AP 281841 Jan 03)


  • NATO peacekeepers have rejected a request from Bosnian authorities to hand over a man detained on suspicion of spying on their troops and links to the al Qaida network, a spokesman said on Tuesday in Sarajevo. Bosnia’s tripartite presidency asked SFOR earlier this month to hand over Sabahudin Fiuljanin to the Muslim-Croat federation, after the country’s top human rights court ordered it to do so. The Human Rights Chamber said he was being detained illegally. “Mr Fiuljanin remains detained in Tuzla as the investigation into his activities continues,” a SFOR spokesman told reporters, declining to say why SFOR refused to transfer the suspect to local authorities. (Reuters 281455 GMT Jan 03)


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