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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Schroeder warns against Iraq attack
Iraqi soldier outside UN base in Iraq
US threats of war against Iraq are intensifying
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has expressed strong reservations about any military attack on Iraq.

Mr Schroeder, a staunch US ally in the "war on terror," warned that such a move could destroy the international alliance set up following the 11 September attacks.

Chancellor Schroeder
Schroeder: War on terror "not yet won"

His comments come as speculation mounts that the US is intending to carry out military action against Iraq with the aim of toppling President Saddam Hussein.

Mr Schroeder faces a tough challenge from the conservative opposition in next month's elections, and some observers say his opposition to a possible US attack on Iraq is an attempt to woo left-wing voters.

He suffered a fresh blow on Wednesday with the announcement that German unemployment had risen above four million.

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has told Iraq it must accept the Security Council's terms on disarmament and weapons inspections before a UN official can take up an Iraqi invitation to visit.

We think Britain could play a very positive role in convincing the Americans

Mudhafar Amin
Iraqi representative in London

Iraq's representative in London has called on Britain to try to persuade the US to find a peaceful way out of the situation.

The Iraqi parliament met on Wednesday to discuss the US threats against Saddam Hussein.

At a similar meeting last month, MPs expressed support for the Iraqi leader and all steps "he has taken or will take in future to defend the security of Iraq".

Splitting alliance?

"This war (on terror) is not yet won, so I warn against an attack on Iraq," Mr Schroeder was quoted as saying in the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

Iraqi rockets filled with sarin, destroyed after the Gulf War
Iraq wants the UN to look at a range of issues
"It would be less easily understood as an act of defence and could destroy the international alliance against terror."

European Union leaders agree that Saddam Hussein must let UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq unconditionally.

But correspondents say the issue could prove divisive for the EU if the US and Britain attacked Iraq without a fresh UN mandate.

Britain was urged by Mudhafar Amin, the Iraqi representative in London, to exert its influence to stave off an attack.

"We think Britain could play a very positive role in convincing the Americans... to find a peaceful means to solving the problem", he told the BBC, warning that a war would result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

Both the US and Britain have dismissed recent offers by Baghdad to resume talks on disarmament and weapons inspections.

New plans

In the past week, Iraq has proposed talks in Baghdad on disarmament and weapons inspections, and has also invited the United States Congress to send a delegation to investigate allegations that Baghdad is developing weapons of mass destruction.

However, Kofi Annan said the Iraqi offer to the UN was at odds with a 1999 Security Council resolution on the terms for a return of the inspection team.

The resolution calls for UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq and make an assessment of what are termed the key remaining disarmament tasks.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan: Urged Iraq to accept Security Council resolution terms
Within 60 days, the inspectors would have to report back to the Security Council and seek its approval for an inspection regime aimed at discovering the full extent of the Iraqi government's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capability.

The US, which accuses Iraq of secretly rebuilding weapons of mass destruction, has dismissed an Iraqi invitation for the US Congress to send a fact-finding team as "a joke".

US President George W Bush has said openly that he is determined to see a change of regime in Iraq.

According to US press reports, on Monday General Tommy Franks briefed him on a new option for a force to invade Iraq which is significantly smaller than previous proposals of 250,000 troops.

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See also:

07 Aug 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Politics
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30 Jul 02 | Americas
02 Aug 02 | Middle East
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