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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

German minister downplays quick NATO deployment in Iraq

PLA Daily 2004-02-16

BERLIN, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- German Defense Minister Peter Struck believes that NATO is not able to make a quick decision on sending its peace-keeping soldiers to Iraq.

In an interview with the "Frankfurter Rundschau" newspaper to be published Monday, Struck said that NATO probably would make such a decision at earliest in 2005.

Conditions for a NATO deployment in Iraq are not fulfilled, said Struck, referring to the demand by some members of the organization that there should be a legitimate government in Iraq asking the help from NATO.

For the moment, there are no positive signals that the divisivepopulation in Iraq can agree on a common constitution or a transitional president, he said.

Besides, NATO is not capable of deploying a large size of troops in Iraq and "the imagination that we can replace 20,000 Americans with NATO soldiers is fully illusory," he added.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently asked NATO to take over the command of a multi-national division led by Poland in Iraq.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that his country would neither block NATO's decision to be formally involved in Iraq, nor participate in such deployment.



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