Germany seeks bigger role in Iraq

Germany's new government will seek to play a bigger role in Iraq but has no plans to send any troops there, an official said Wednesday.

"There is consensus in the grand coalition that no German soldiers will be sent to Iraq," Deputy Defense Minister Friedbert Pflueger told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.

"But the German government wants to more strongly support the democratization and sterilization process in Iraq after the successful elections," the official added.

He did not give details of how Germany will play a bigger role in Iraq.

Germany had operated 90 programs aimed at helping Iraq this year including the training of senior army officers, logistics experts, and military engineers, according to Pflueger. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq and refused to send any soldiers to the country.

The new chancellor, Angela Merkel, had indicated that the new government, formed by Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, maintains the continuity in foreign policy.

Merkel, who had supported the war while she was in oppositionin 2003, noted in this year's election campaign that Germany will not send a soldier to Iraq, Xinhua reports.


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