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Germany

Fischer: NATO Action Possible in Mideast

A future NATO peacekeeping role in the Middle East cannot be ruled out, but it is too early to discuss it in concrete terms, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Wednesday. Fischer was commenting after discussing the Middle East peace process with his NATO counterparts at the start of two days of informal talks in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. "It is too early to talk about a NATO role from an operational point of view," he said after a dinner at which Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos presented ideas for NATO "outreach" into the Middle East region. A NATO role "involving stabilization and ensuring security is certainly not to be ruled out," he added. "But is very early to talk about that on an operational basis." NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has for some months suggested that NATO could at some stage play a role in the Middle East peace process. The issue is extremely sensitive, with opinions divided within the 26-member alliance. France has notably said that NATO has "no vocation" to replace the key actors mediating in the region.

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