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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 06:44 GMT
Germany rules out Iraq war support
USS Abraham Lincoln
The USS Abraham Lincoln is heading for the Gulf
Germany has declared it will not back a UN resolution authorising war against Iraq, adding its concerns to mounting reservations within the Security Council about military action.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made his remarks at a public meeting of his SPD party, shortly after US President George Bush told Iraq that time was running out.

Don't expect Germany to approve a resolution which would give legitimacy to war

Chancellor Schroeder

There has been rising resistance to war from France - a permanent member of the UN Security Council - and other allies, many of whom want UN weapons inspectors in Iraq to have more time to do their work.

Germany, which does not wield a veto in the Security Council, has left itself the option of abstaining from a future vote.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq
But, as the BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow points out, it still works out as one vote less in favour of war.

China, France, Russia, UK, US have veto
10 other members
Nine votes needed for military action
Germany assumes presidency 1 Feb
The US may conclude that it does not have enough support within the Security Council to guarantee the nine votes needed to pass a resolution authorising military action, he says.

Earlier, Turkey - a key Nato partner - expressed its own fresh reservations, and announced that representatives of Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordan will meet in Istanbul on Thursday to try to find a way to prevent war in the region.

The remarks were made as two more US aircraft carriers were ordered to the Gulf region for a possible attack on Iraq.

More time

Britain, Mr Bush's closest ally on the issue of Iraq, is sending Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Washington on Wednesday for talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had grown, and that it was necessary to keep up the pressure on Baghdad.

100,000 US troops including:
12,000 4th Infantry division troops
2,000 Marines trained for chemical and biological warfare
26,000 UK troops including:
Royal Marines, tanks and an air assault brigade
Speaking after both the UK and US announced new troop deployments to the Gulf, Mr Blair said he reserved the right to join in military action, even if a UN Security Council member vetoed such a move.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin - whose country is one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council - has already said that nothing so far justified military action and he did not rule out a French veto.

China and Russia, also permanent members, say the inspectors should be given more time.

One of the leaders of the UN inspection teams for Iraq, Mohamad ElBaradei, has said the teams are only half way through their work.

He said both he and chief inspector Hans Blix would make this clear to the Security Council next week.

Military build-up

The announcement that the US is sending another two aircraft carriers - the USS Abraham Lincoln and another thought to be the USS Theodore Roosevelt, each with about 75 aircraft on board - will bring to four the number of US carriers within striking distance of Iraq.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Full size graphic showing key areas of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier
As well as their aircraft, the carriers usually operate with a battle group of escorting ships and submarines that also carry Cruise missiles.

The BBC's Nick Childs, at the Pentagon, says the ships could operate in the Gulf, the Mediterranean, or the Red Sea, and thus be able to attack Iraqi targets from a wide variety of directions.

The US had already announced it was to send nearly 37,000 personnel to the Gulf in addition to the 62,000 troops ordered to mobilise earlier this month.

  The BBC's Mike Sergeant
"Russia and France are also voicing doubts"

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21 Jan 03 | Europe
21 Jan 03 | Business
19 Jan 03 | Middle East
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