Source Pravda.Ru

US requests for help in Iraq

Germany and other European countries that opposed the war in Iraq should do more to help there and recognize the Iraqi leadership as a legitimate and democratic government, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried said Washington did not expect Germany to send troops to Iraq, but he urged Europe to provide more support for what he described as "one of the most democratically constituted regimes" in the Middle East.

"It should not be treated as a pariah and its leaders should not be treated as if they are second class citizens. Now I am not accusing Germany of doing that, though there is a kind of asterisk often put near Iraq and the government and that needs to be removed," Fried told reporters at a U.S. embassy briefing.

Fried said he would convey the message in meetings with German officials on Monday. Among others, he will meet designated interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, one of the most senior members of incoming chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was one of the European Union's most vocal opponents of the U.S.-British decision to invade Iraq. It helped him win re-election in 2002.

Merkel has vowed to keep ties with Washington strong but is not expected to change Berlin's position on Iraq.

Fried hailed the coalition agreement by the CDU, its sister party CSU and the center-left Social Democrats which declared that Europe and the United States should be partners.

He declined to give details on what exactly Washington wanted Germany to do in Iraq, though he made it clear the United States would not push Germany to change its position on the war or to send combat troops.

Berlin's postwar support for Iraq has included humanitarian and other aid. Germany is also training Iraqi police, security and administrative officials outside the country.

Fried also called on NATO keep its promise to extend its operations in Afghanistan, where the alliance is trying to stabilize the country after the Taliban was toppled in 2001, Reuters reports.

V.Y.