- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

NEW YORK — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder yesterday dropped many of his objections to U.S.-led efforts to rebuild Iraq, telling President Bush that Germany is now prepared to offer economic assistance for reconstruction and training for Iraqi soldiers and police.

The two leaders, meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, agreed to put aside past rancor over the war that Germany actively opposed.

But fresh challenges emerged from other U.S. allies, including Turkey, Pakistan and Poland, which responded warily to the American campaign to seek additional international troops to help police Iraq.

Mr. Schroeder, who based his re-election campaign last year on opposition to military action in Iraq, said yesterday that Germany has a “vested interest” in the success of Iraq’s move toward freedom and democracy. He offered aid — but no ground troops.

“I have once more said this to the president myself, how very much we would like to come in and help with the resources that we do have. We could very much envisage that we will assist in providing training for security staff, be it police functions or be it some form of military function,” Mr. Schroeder said.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Schroeder met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan, a day after Mr. Bush castigated the United Nations for failing to pull together to secure Iraq.

“We very much feel that the differences that have been, have been left behind and put aside by now. We are both agreed that we want to look into the future together,” Mr. Schroeder told reporters afterward.

Mr. Bush also said past differences should be put aside.

“I said, ‘Look, we’ve had differences and they’re over, and we’re going to work together.’ And I believe when Germany and America work together, we can accomplish a lot of positive things,” the president said.

Yesterday’s meeting marked the first time the two leaders have met in 16 months. Mr. Bush was displeased that the German leader joined forces with French President Jacques Chirac earlier this year to block the U.N. Security Council from endorsing military intervention in Iraq.

Later in the day, Mr. Bush met with the leaders of Pakistan and India, which remained skeptical about U.S. requests for additional international troops, but both offered aid.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who addressed the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, called for Iraqis to assume control of their resources and political destiny as soon as possible.

“Pakistan would be prepared to help in a collective U.N.-sanctioned Arab and Islamic effort to help the Iraqi people, if they wish us to do so,” he said.

Another U.S. ally, Turkey, said it was not interested in sending combat troops to Iraq.

“We don’t want to be part of the occupation … because we know the Iraqi people are not happy,” Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said at a Eurasia summit held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Speaking to Turkish press earlier in the day, Mr. Gul said bluntly that the United States had failed in its postwar reconstruction effort in Iraq.

“They want as soon as possible to rule their own country. So if we go there, we want to go together with humanitarian aid, not be just a police force. Otherwise, we cannot be helpful.”

He added, however, that if Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation bordering northern Iraq, felt the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq were under threat, “we may go there.”

A senior U.S. official said forming a new multinational force was not the primary focus of yesterday’s discussions.

“The issue was the mechanism and timing of how we get to a full exercise of authority by the Iraqis,” the official said.

In the past, the United States has lobbied Turkey, Pakistan and India — without success — to contribute troops to help police Iraq.

Even Poland, which has about 2,500 troops in southern Iraq, yesterday chided the United States for not listening to its suggestions on how to improve the security situation in Iraq.

“The situation is very difficult and very complicated,” said Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. “I’m afraid no one can guarantee there will be no incidents.”

But, he said, stabilizing Iraq would take a lot more than professional military personnel.

“It’s also about good coordination with the Iraqi people,” Mr. Cimoszewicz said, also at the Eurasia summit.

“We believe that it is exceptionally important to get in contact with ordinary Iraqis,” the Polish minister said, emphasizing that the Polish troops preferred to move around the country without visible protection.

“The reception is always good on the political level,” he said, referring to working with the United States in Iraq. “We face problems in practice.”

Mr. Cimoszewicz declined to predict how close the Security Council was on voting on a new U.S.-proposed resolution on Iraq — a move designed to help attract troops and financial support from other nations.

Despite offers of assistance, no nation has come forward to offer additional troops in response to the latest U.S. push for a resolution authorizing a U.N. peacekeeping force in Iraq.

The United States has about 131,000 troops in Iraq and it is reportedly seeking at least one additional division, about 15,000 peacekeeping troops, from other nations, in addition to the 23,000 non-U.S. troops already there.

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