The security chief of the European Union is playing down the disagreement in NATO over military support for Turkey. Javier Solana's comments came as he wrapped up a trip to South Korea.
Mr. Solana says he is confident countries in the NATO alliance will resolve their differences over planning for a possible war in Iraq. He said the problem could be resolved by early next week.
France, Germany and Belgium on Monday refused to approve deployments to help support fellow NATO member Turkey. The three countries argued that sending help now is unnecessary as diplomatic efforts to disarm Iraq are still under.
The United States, however, wants immediate protection for Turkey, which is the only NATO country to border Iraq, and would be a staging ground for U.S.-led attacks on Iraq.
Speaking in Seoul on Wednesday, Mr. Solana played down the disagreement, saying Turkey would be protected if and when war breaks out. "At this point in time there are two countries that think it is not necessary to start contingency planning. At this moment in time there's no risk vis-a-vis of the countries of NATO," he says. "But as I said, you can be sure and I can guarantee you that if Turkey needs help, the help will be given by all the members of NATO alliance."
Mr. Solana also is the former NATO secretary-general. His words reinforced the stance of his successor, George Robertson, that a rapid solution to the dispute is likely.
Washington wants NATO to send early warning planes, air defense missiles, and anti-chemical and biological warfare units to protect Turkey from potential retaliation by Iraq if war breaks out.
The United States has been pushing to force Iraq to comply with United Nations disarmament resolutions. Washington says if Baghdad does not disarm, it will be necessary to use military force to make it comply. France and Germany, however, say U.N. weapons inspectors must be given more time to find and destroy any illegal Iraqi weapons programs.