Germany in Brief | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.07.2003
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Germany in Brief

Survey shows Germans endorse sending humanitarian aid to Iraq; diplomat in Mali to find European hostages; a man looses his pants on German highway and more.


Pollsters say Germans want to help out Iraq but not with their military

Survey: Germans support humanitarian involvement in Iraq

A majority of Germans are in favor of their country mounting a humanitarian mission in postwar Iraq but oppose sending military aid, the newsmagazine Stern revealed on Wednesday. The polling institute Forsa determined that 60 percent of the 1,008 people questioned supported German humanitarian involvement under the aegis of the United Nations. Twelve percent approved of a mission under U.S. command. But 28 percent rejected the idea of German humanitarian aid for Iraq. And although 44 percent of those questioned accepted the idea of the German military engaging in operations in Iraq with a U.N. mandate, 51 percent opposed any sort of role for the Bundeswehr in the country. A mere five percent endorsed German military operations under U.S. command.

German diplomat searches for hostages in Mali

A senior German diplomat arrived in Mali on Wednesday to locate 15 European tourists who were kidnapped in the Sahara Desert in Algeria four months ago. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jürgen Chrobog held talks with the political leadership of the western African country about the fate of the ten Germans, four Swiss nationals and one Dutch man, a ministry spokeswoman said. Algerian papers reported last week that the hostages had been moved to Mali. The kidnappers are thought to be members of a radical Islamic group.

EU probes planned road tolls, accepts "can deposit"

The European Commission began investigating German plans to require heavy trucks to pay road tolls from late August. The commission will establish whether compensation payments from the government of €600 million to German trucking companies are legal. European Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said the toll system could not be put in place until the commission had completed its probe. But German Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe contested that the investigation would not delay collecting fees starting from August 31, 2003. "Introducing the tolls is entirely independent from it," he said. The commission also decided not to act against the German "can deposit" system that requires consumers to pay deposits on one-way beverage packaging. Instead, a spokesman said, European Commission President Romani Prodi would informally ask Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to stop the current transitional system until a permanent scheme that is compatible with EU regulations begins in October.

Thrown underwear causes accident on motorway

A pair of flying underpants caused an accident on a German motorway after landing on a driver's face and blocking his view, police have said. A group of naked men in a van threw the underwear into another vehicle as they passed it on a busy stretch of the autobahn, a police spokesman in the town of Gotha said. "The underpants landed on the driver's face, causing him to ram the truck ahead from behind," he explained. The spokesman added that he didn't know why the men were driving naked. Although no one was hurt in the accident, the police are searching for the owner of the underpants for failing to stop at the scene.

Compiled with material from wire agencies.