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Europe

Schröder Pushes for Muslim Peacekeepers in Iraq

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder discussed a new UN resolution on Iraq with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday. Prior to their talks, Schröder called for Muslim countries to send peacekeepers to stabilize Iraq.

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After talks with Belgian Premier Guy Verhofstadt on Tuesday, Schröder said Germany had no intention of blocking a U.S.-driven plan for a NATO mission in Iraq. Such a mission could be approved at the alliance's next summit in Istanbul at the end of June. NATO requires all member states to approve missions.

"We're not going to block the wishes of others," said Schröder, who was a vocal opponent of the U.S.-led war. But he added that it was important to think about whether Iraqis would accept NATO troops any more than those from the current coalition led by the U.S. and Britain.

Gipfel in Berlin Tony Blair und Gerhard Schröder Flagge

Schröder and Blair during an earlier meeting

Schröder made it clear that Germany would not send troops to Iraq even if a NATO mission is approved. He also reiterated his suggestion to bring in peacekeepers from Muslim countries, saying that they were more likely to be welcomed by the Iraqis. So far, no Muslim country has publicly offered to participate in a peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

On Sunday, U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel that she also hoped Muslim countries would agree to send peacekeeping groups. "It would be helpful," she said. "We hope that these governments will decide to do it once we have a UN resolution."

New UN resolution crucial

During their meeting on Wednesday, Schröder and Blair discussed the proposed new UN resolution, which is needed to recognize the Iraqi government that's scheduled to take over on June 30. The resolution would also authorize the ongoing presence of foreign armies in Iraq.

British officials have said they will only stay in Iraq if the country's new sovereign government approves this."If they do not want troops there, then we will leave," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a BBC interview. Rice on Sunday agreed that the Iraqis will be in control after June 30. "They will be fully sovereign in making their own decisions, and that is how it should be," she said in an interview with German public television ARD. But she added that U.S. forces would not withdraw from Iraq until the situation in the country had been stabilized. "We'll stay until the job is done. We're not at the point where we want to be."

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