Belgium Continues Blocking Turkey Plan
Sun Feb 9, 6:53 AM ET
By CONSTANT BRAND, Associated Press Writer
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Belgium will continue blocking NATO (news - web sites) efforts to plan for Turkey's defense against potential attacks from Iraq, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said Sunday.
Michel urged the United States to give U.N. inspectors more time and resources to search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and backed a reported French-German plan to send U.N. peacekeepers there.
Turkey is the only NATO nation that borders Iraq and may be a springboard for U.S. troops opening up a northern front in any attack, prompting fears it could be the target for retaliatory strikes.
France, Belgium and Germany are the only three of NATO's 19 members who don't back preparations to defend the country. They argue it is premature to start the military planning while U.N. efforts to avert war continued.
"There are 16 (NATO) countries willing to back the United States, and follow the case for war. We are not there yet," Michel said on a Sunday talk show on VRT television.
Under a so-called "silence procedure" agreed upon Thursday, military planning would begin automatically to deploy early warning planes, missile-interceptor batteries and anti-germ warfare units to Turkey — unless any of the allies raises an objection by 10 a.m. Monday.
"We are now busy with France and Germany to write a letter to state out our veto right," Michel said.
"We are right to stay on the side of the French and Germans because there are still many questions to be posed and answered," Michel said. "There is a real good chance to avoid war, it depends not only on America but also European countries."
Michel questioned the motives for war, saying there were still no real reason for an attack.
"The reasons given by the Americans...are not the real reasons (for war) ... It has to do with power and oil," he said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Saturday that some U.S. allies' lack of resolve was undermining what slim chance may exist to avoid war.
But Michel disagreed arguing U.N. inspectors needed more time and resources to get their job done.
"Right now it is very hard to prove there are weapons. The period must be extended for inspections," said Michel.
I really can't figure out Louis Michel...I mean he sees no problem in selling weapons to Nepal, a country ravaged by civil war but now he's playing the big moralist again. I wish he would be a little more consistent.