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Germany Offers Help

DW staff (jen)December 7, 2006

Germany has said it would like to support the US in creating a dialog with Iran and Syria and help it meet the recommendations in the newly released US Baker Commission's report on Iraq.

stack of Baker Report books
The newly published Baker Report is apparently selling like hotcakesImage: AP

A report by the high-level Baker Commission panel called for a new US strategy toward the conflict in Iraq, especially on the role of its neighbors. Germany has offered its help in making the recommendations a reality.

The panel's recommendations, issued on Wednesday, said only an urgent overhaul of the failed US policy in Iraq could halt the blighted nation's slide into anarchy.

"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively," said the report, among other key recommendations.

Germany could play mediator's role

Karsten Voigt, the German foreign ministry's coordinator for German-American cooperation, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper he sees US dialog with Iran and Syria as absolutely necessary. He suggested that Germans and Europeans could help and mediate in talks.

Karsten Voigt headshot. Voigt is the German foreign ministry's coordinator for German-American cooperation
Karsten Voigt sees Germany in the mediator's roleImage: DW-TV

He added that the Baker Report's recommendation for a strategy change in Iraq and the Middle East had met with international support.

"We should be happy that there is a course correction in the United States," Voigt said on n-tv television. "If we as Europeans and as Germans can help diplomatically, then we should. We are also ready to help with reconstruction in Iraq, if the security situation permits."

While Germans and Europeans could help and mediate, their actions could not replace direct talks between the US and Iran or Syria, Voigt added. Diplomats would just need to hope that Iraq's neighbors could contribute to stability there and need to be clear that they would not aid in military efforts.

"There will be no military engagement of Germany in Iraq, also not in the future," Voigt told the Nordwest Zeitung newspaper on Thursday. "This change of political course was urgently needed. There must be an organized withdrawal."

Syria stands behind report

USA James A. Baker Irak Kommission vor Capitol Washington
James Baker, the report's author, is a former US Secretary of StateImage: AP

On Thursday, Syria called the Baker Commission report "objective."

"The report is objective, especially with regard to the role of Iraq's neighbors in achieving security and stability in the country," a foreign ministry official told AFP news service.

The 160-page report recommends that the US government seek dialog with "all parties" in Iraq outside the terrorist al Qaeda organization. The panel also called for a major international conference to make peace between Israel and Syria, including the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, and to work on a final Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

Israel urged to pay attention

The Peace Now protest group came out in support of the report, saying Israel should study and implement its recommendations. Israel's Ynet news site quoted Peace Now as demanding that the Israeli government "not bury its head in the sand and ignore the explicit recommendations in the report."

There has been no official Israeli reaction to the report.