Accessibility links

Germany 'Determined' to Find Peaceful Solution for Iraq Standoff

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has defended his government's opposition to a war with Iraq. Mr. Schroeder also says a NATO alliance dispute over protecting Turkey will not be resolved before a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.

Criticized by the German opposition for isolating the country from most of its allies, Mr. Schroeder made an impassioned defense of his anti-war stand. He said U.N. weapons inspectors must continue to work in Iraq, and that they need more time.

He also said violation of Security Council Resolution 1441 is not a trigger for war. The resolution says violations will result in 'serious consequences.'

The chancellor had been expected to provide details of a much-talked-about Franco-German plan to prevent war. But he only repeated elements of a proposal advanced last week at the United Nations by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin that would strengthen weapons inspections.

Mr. Schroeder says the international community must concentrate on fighting terrorism. He says a war against Iraq will only boost fanatics in the Muslim world.

"Those who want to resolve this crisis by military means have to have an answer to the question whether this will strengthen the international alliance against terrorism, which includes over 50 Muslim nations, or whether this will threaten this alliance, if not break it, because that would have devastating results for the fight against international terrorism," he said.

Mr. Schroeder also reaffirmed his support for NATO, where his country, France and Belgium have blocked an effort to make plans to protect Turkey in case of a war in Iraq.

"We clearly stand by our responsibilities within the alliance," he stressed. "The alliance helps partners who are in danger, and this also applies clearly to Turkey, who can rely on our solidarity when it comes to averting danger anytime."

But the German Chancellor says his country will not consider lifting its veto on NATO planning for Turkey's defense until after chief U.N. weapons inspectors report to the Security Council on Friday.

His defense minister, Peter Struck, said later that Berlin would break the stalemate by Saturday. But diplomats at NATO say it is not clear whether France and Belgium will go along with the German pledge.