As Washington seethes with rumours of new US military targets in Iraq and elsewhere, Berlin issues a plea to contain the conflict.
Schröder said a spreading conflict could "blow up in our faces"
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his foreign minister on Wednesday warned against spreading the military conflict beyond Afghanistan.
"We should be particularly careful about a discussion about new targets in the Middle East - more could blow up in our faces there than any of us realise," Schröder said before the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
Schröder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer recommended a search for "political" solutions with countries on Washington's blacklist, apart from Afghanistan.
Germany is not "simply waiting to intervene militarily elsewhere in the world, such as Iraq or Somalia," the chancellor said.
Fischer added that, "All European nations would view a broadening (of the conflict) to include Iraq highly sceptically - and that is putting it diplomatically," Reuters reported.
Coming from a government that has stuck close by the administration of President George W. Bush since the September 11th attacks in New York, Germany's comments seem likely to catch the White House off guard.
Schröder's government most recently risked its parliamentary backing by pushing through a pledge of 3,900 soldiers – the first major military commitment of German troops in the federal republic's history, since World War Two.
Germany, after the United Kingdom, has led European military support for the Bush administration's military plans.
But Schröder's and Fischer's comments count as a rebuke to Bush's remark earlier this week that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will "find out" what will happen if he continues to block entry to international weapons inspectors.