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Germany Warns U.S. on Wider Anti-Terror War

Reuters, 28 November 2001


BERLIN -- Germany warned the United States Wednesday against expanding its war on terrorism in Afghanistan to countries such as Iraq and Somalia.

"All European nations would view a broadening (of the conflict) to include Iraq highly skeptically -- and that is putting it diplomatically," Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told parliament.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reiterated his support for the U.S.-led coalition but said Germany was not "simply waiting to intervene militarily elsewhere in the world, such as Iraq or Somalia."

Both men suggested that bombing Iraq could trigger a wider, uncontrollable conflict in the Middle East.

"We should be particularly careful about a discussion about new targets in the Middle East -- more could blow up in our faces there than any of us realize," Schroeder said.

"We should try and solve the region's problems politically," Fischer added.

President Bush declared last week that "the front against terror is not just in Afghanistan....we're going to fight terror wherever it exists."

This week Bush insisted that President Saddam Hussein allow inspectors back into Iraq to show he was not developing weapons of mass destruction. Asked what would happen if Saddam refused, Bush replied: "He'll find out."

Some U.S. and Israeli officials have mentioned a putative "phase two," in which the international community would act to isolate a range of Arab and Islamic militant groups and states accused of sponsoring them.

But there have been fears that a move into somewhere like Iraq could strain the coalition, unless Baghdad was proven to have had a hand in the September 11 suicide attacks that killed nearly 4,000 people in the United States.

Schroeder told parliament: "We will do what is necessary. We will do everything to make sure the anti-terror coalition stays solid. But we should be careful about comments in magazines, newspapers, or from certain junior ministers, looking for new targets already."

Last week a junior minister in the Foreign Ministry, Christoph Zoepel, said that Schroeder's Social Democrats would back an anti-terror group in Somalia.

© 2001 Reuters
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

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