USA puts pressure on Latvia to support Washington in case of its attack against Iraq

On Saturday the largest Latvian "Diena" daily reported with reference to American Ambassador in Latvia Brian Carlson that the USA wished Latvia to support Washington in case it attacked Iraq. "Diena" reported that on the day before NATO summit in Prague Latvian diplomats received a written message of the American Ambassador in which he expressed "clear, unequivocal wish to receive assurances of loyalty and political support in case Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein refused to implement the UN Security Council's resolution and the decision would be taken to disarm him by means of a military attack." According to the information available at the newspaper's office, the message also contained the request to "consider what kind of practical support can be rendered by Latvia." That American request put Riga in a difficult situation as it never expected that specific contribution would be so soon required from it in such a delicate matter, as Iraq, moreover that Latvian military resources were almost nil in comparison with other NATO states. Latvian foreign minister Sandra Kalniete while commenting that US message appraised it as an "political help" appeal. The Latvian foreign minister explained that "participation in NATO" presupposed certain responsibilities. The minister indicated that "presently they were not talking about specific military demands." Nevertheless in this connection Riga is in a certain state of confusion. According to Latvian Defense minister Girts Kristovkis, it was premature to talk about possible military assistance. In his turn, commander of Latvian armed forces Raimonds Graube presumed without going into details that if necessary Latvia might take part in some "specialized NATO units."

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