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US sees no opposition to boosting NATO Iraq role
BRUSSELS (AFP) Dec 04, 2003
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that no NATO member, including France and Germany, opposed the idea of a greater role for the Alliance in Iraq.

But speaking after talks with his NATO counterparts, he said there was agreement that Afghanistan was a more pressing issue for the 19-member Alliance.

"Not a single member... spoke against it or spoke of reasons not to do it," he told reporters, adding "and that includes the two you mentioned, France and Germany" when asked if Berlin and Paris had raised objections.

But he added: "Our principal focus right now has to be Afghanistan."

In a prepared speech to the Brussels meeting, Powell called for NATO to take on a greater role in Iraq, to help stabilize the country after a war that deeply divided the 19-member Alliance.

"We urge the Alliance to examine how it might do more to support peace and stability in Iraq, which every leader has acknowledged is critical to all of us," he said, according to his prepared remarks.

The Iraq war and the diplomatic battles that preceded it sparked the biggest crisis in NATO's 54-year history, as three anti-war countries -- France, Germany and Belgium -- opposed Alliance help for Turkey.

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