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Germany

Former Defense Minister Denies Agents Aided US War Effort

As the German parliament gears up to debate allegations that German secret agents helped US forces during the 2003 war on Iraq, former Defense Minister Peter Struck has come out and denied the claims.

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In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper, Struck dismissed the allegations that German secret agents of the national intelligence service, the BND, had helped US warplanes to select bombing targets in a war to which the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was vehemently and vocally opposed.

"I'm sure the Americans knew themselves what targets they wanted to attack," said Struck, who currently heads the Social Democrat parliamentary group. "They didn't need any directions. Apart from the fact that we granted the Americans flyover rights and that German soldiers guarded US facilities (in Germany), the government maintained its line that we did not take an active part in this war."

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Although the current government has confirmed that two German agents remained in Baghdad during the 2003 invasion, it said their presence was in order to provide the government with first-hand information about the war adding that they gave US forces details of buildings to avoid such as schools or hospitals.

"No double standards"

On Monday, the new German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was Schröder's chief-of-staff and as such in charge of overseeing the intelligence services at the time in question, told Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper that the intelligence agents had not supported the US invasion.

"If we were able to prevent an embassy or a hospital from being hit, then that has nothing to do with double standards," the foreign minister said. He added that some people were now trying to re-write history, but that neither he nor his party would allow that to happen.

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German Foreign MInister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Steinmeier has come under pressure from opposition politicians to resign if it transpires that German agents did in fact help the US in its war mission. He has rejected calls for his resignation, saying that the "question doesn't arise."

The weekly news magazine Der Spiegel said the BND agents might have cooperated with the US forces without realizing that the information they provided was actually giving the Americans valuable indications about targets or troop movements.

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