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Updated: 04-May-2004

SHAPE News Morning Update

04 May 2004

  • Germany says protection of U.S. bases to end
  • Spain asks for NATO plane for royal wedding


  • Nine Turks charged in alleged plot to bomb NATO summit
  • Six Gulf states to sign anti-terrorism pact


  • Failure looms for NATO in Afghan expansion drive
  • Spain backs away from pledge to send more troops to Afghanistan


  • Serbs seek truth after assassin suspect’s surrender
  • Police arrest two for roles in violent protests in Kosovo


  • German Defence Minister Struck said Germany will stop protecting U.S. military bases in the country at the end of 2004 and would not send troops to help a NATO force police Iraq, a newspaper reported on Sunday. “We want to put an end to the German army’s protection of American installations by the end of the year,” said Peter Struck in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag. “We’re now negotiating an end to the guarding process.” Defence Minister Struck also said Germany would not take part in any prospective NATO security force in Iraq once the U.S.-led coalition transfers sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government at the end of June. “It seems highly uncertain if and when NATO will be asked for support,” he said. “Whatever the case, Germany will not take part in it. The army will only provide special aircraft to transport wounded if this proves necessary.” (Reuters 021236 GMT May 04)

  • Spain has asked NATO to lend it an AWACS surveillance plane for security at the wedding of heir to the throne Prince Felipe in the wake of the Madrid rail bombings, news agency Europa Press reported. Prince Felipe’s wedding to former TV anchor Letizia Ortiz is due to take place in Madrid’s Almudena cathedral on May 22. A Defence Ministry spokesman was unavailable to comment on the report. Europa Press also said the request for the AWACS plane was one of a series of security measures planned for the day of the royal wedding including closing the airspace over the capital, suspending the Schengen agreement that allows free movement across borders and putting 10,000 police officers on duty. (Reuters 032014 GMT May 04)


  • A Turkish court on Monday charged nine suspected members of a group linked to al-Qaida, Ansar al-Islam, in an alleged plot to set off a bomb at a June NATO summit in Istanbul that U.S. President Bush will attend. Private CNN-Turk television said three of those charged had been plotting a suicide attack on President Bush and other Western leaders at the summit, but officials could not confirm the report. (AP 031914 May 04)

  • Interior ministers of six Gulf Arab states planned to sign a security pact Tuesday to improve cooperation against Islamic terrorists. The agreement calls for the sharing of intelligence among Gulf Cooperation Council countries, said the body’s secretary general, Abdulrahman al-Attiyah, who arrived in Kuwait on Monday to help complete the pact. (AP 031624 May 04)


  • Alarm is mounting that NATO will miss its deadline at the end of June to extend its peace operations into Afghanistan’s lawless hinterlands, exposing its credibility to yet another battering, diplomats said. Diplomats say NATO’s top soldier, U.S. General James Jones, will tell allied military chiefs at a meeting on May 5-6 to offer costly equipment - transport planes, helicopters, quick-response teams and medical facilities - or face failure. “NATO needs to get on with this now...it is important for our credibility,” Gen. Jones told reporters on a return flight from Kabul last week. One senior alliance diplomat said he still believed NATO would meet its target, and suggested Gen. Jones was just “ringing alarm bells to show nations that there is a downside.” The real problem, as NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Sheffer pointed out last week, is that European allies simply do not have readily deployable expeditionary forces and equipment for post-Cold War crisis management operations. (Reuters 021133 GMT May 04)

  • Spain backed away Monday from public assertions that it would double its troop contingent in Afghanistan. “There is nothing decided,” Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said on the Telecinco television network. He welcomed comments on Sunday from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that he expects the Security Council to adopt a new resolution authorizing the multinational force in Iraq to remain after June 30. But Mr. Moratinos said it is not clear what mandate such a force would have nor whether the force would fall under UN command. Asked whether Spain ruled out sending troops back to Iraq, Foreign Minister Moratinos said: “In life you can never say never. But let’s say that for now we are not considering it.” (AP 030851 May 04)


  • Serbs cast a cynical eye on Monday over the surprise surrender of a suspect in the 2003 assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic but hoped it might yet grant them a rare glimpse of the truth. Milorad Lukovic surrendered to police in Belgrade on Sunday, ending a year on the run in which his trail had apparently gone cold. Newspapers were on holiday but there was speculation on the airwaves that a deal had been done with the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, perhaps for lenient treatment. (Reuters 031820 GMT May 04)

  • UN police arrested two ethnic Albanian war veterans on Sunday for their roles in violent ethnic clashes that rocked Kosovo in mid-March, officials and local media said. Authorities arrested Naser Shatri and Nexhmi Lajci, both heads of the local branches of war veterans organizations, in the Kosovo towns of Pec and Istok. (AP 021348 May 04)


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