NATO ambassadors have again failed to resolve a deadlock over providing military support to Turkey ahead of a possible war in Iraq.
The 19 ambassadors met in Brussels to consider a compromise after France, Germany and Belgium Monday blocked a U.S. request for the alliance to begin planning the assistance. But Foreign Ministry officials in Paris indicated that they foresee no change in their country's stand ahead of Friday's United Nations Security Council meeting on the Iraqi crisis.
France, Germany and Belgium say they consider sending NATO military equipment to Turkey - the only NATO member that borders Iraq - premature while diplomatic efforts to avert war continue. French President Jacques Chirac Wednesday telephoned Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to assure him that France will stand by the Turks if their country is genuinely threatened.
Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul says NATO has an obligation to prepare to defend a member nation facing a potential threat.
European Union foreign policy chief and former NATO secretary-general Javier Solana says he is confident the NATO split can be resolved, calling the rift one of timing rather than substance. Speaking in Seoul, he expressed confidence that the alliance would help defend Turkey, if necessary.
Meanwhile, Greece, which currently holds the EU presidency, says the 15-nation organization will be plunged into a "deep crisis" if it does not forge a common stance on Iraq at an emergency summit next week. EU leaders will gather for the summit Monday in Brussels.