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German Air Bases to be Used in Case of War Against Iraq - 2002-11-27

Germany said U.S. and NATO forces can use bases on German soil and German airspace in case of a war against Iraq. But Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder continues to insist that his country will take no part in any action against Iraq.

Mr. Schroeder told reporters in Berlin that Germany will permit U.S. forces to use Germany as a staging base, in the event of strikes against Iraq. He said that permission also applies to U.S. allies with facilities in Germany.

The German decision came after Washington asked some 50 countries what kind of help they could provide in case of an attack on Iraq.

But Mr. Schroeder reiterated his stance that German troops will not participate in any such attack. He specifically mentioned that a German army unit specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear defenses that is now stationed in Kuwait will not be involved in an eventual Iraq conflict.

Mr. Schroeder has been trying to patch up a bitter dispute with the United States that developed when he vowed during his recent re-election campaign that Germany would not contribute to an attack against Iraq, even if it were backed by the United Nations. Ties between the two countries are still strained over the matter.