- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

Poland yesterday softened a proposal to have German troops serve under its command as part of a multinational security force in Iraq after the United States rejected the notion and Germany said it was not interested.A day before his meeting with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Smajdzinski floated the idea in an interview with The Washington Times, saying, “We would like to have German troops.”But yesterday, Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said his country would welcome many European nations in its sector in Iraq without insisting on any country in particular.”I’m afraid there is some misunderstanding concerning that issue,” Mr. Cimoszewicz said in an interview with CNN International. “We would like to have as many European partners as possible. … As I understand it, it was a general idea.”During the interview Sunday at the Polish Embassy in Washington, Mr. Smajdzinski proposed a Polish-German-Danish unit, pointing out that such a force exists under NATO. He also said, “I’m sure the United States would be interested in that.”But U.S. officials said Mr. Rumsfeld made it clear to his guest that Germany or any other country that opposed the war in Iraq would not take part in the stabilization force.Late last month, a senior U.S. military officer told The Times that Paris and Berlin would be welcome to participate in rebuilding Iraq, but their militaries will not.”No French or German military personnel will be allowed to set foot in Iraq,” the senior officer said.Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who met with Mr. Cimoszewicz yesterday, refrained from commenting on Warsaw’s proposal.Mr. Powell said he was “very pleased that Poland is once again stepping up to its responsibilities by participating more fully” in the reconstruction of Iraq.Senior German officials, visiting Washington in an attempt to mend relations with the United States, said Berlin does not intend to send troops to Iraq at this time, although it is willing to consider a NATO role in the process.”At this stage, we are not looking at any military personnel being engaged in Iraq,” one senior official said.Under the German Constitution, he noted, any deployment of forces abroad must have an explicit mandate from the U.N. Security Council and be approved by parliament. Both conditions were met before Germany sent troops to Afghanistan last year.Denmark responded positively to the Polish proposal by announcing it will send 380 troops, police officers and medical staff to southeastern Iraq in early June.The decision to send troops was “necessary to support and ensure humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and the process of political transition in Iraq,” Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Copenhagen.Mr. Rasmussen, who made no reference to Poland’s proposal, presented the proposal to parliament, where his center-right party commands an effective majority thanks to the informal backing of the far-right Danish People’s Party.Military officials from 17 nations are scheduled to meet in London tomorrow to discuss contributions to the international force in Iraq, the British Defense Ministry said yesterday.The working-level talks, led by Britain, will be a follow-up to discussions that took place last week. Under a proposal drawn up by Washington and London, Iraq would be divided into three zones once a stabilization force is deployed, with Britain in charge of southeastern Iraq.The senior German officials said they see no linkage between the lifting of U.N. sanctions and the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Russia has insisted that the country must be found free of such weapons before it will support a new Security Council resolution.State Department spokesman Richard Boucher indicated yesterday that Washington was willing to differentiate between civilian and weapons sanctions.”We would expect normal restrictions on international arms trade or nuclear trade or missile trade or whatever to apply to Iraq as they do to other countries,” he told reporters.”The basic goal is to remove any burden that sanctions might make on the Iraqi people.”

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