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German Defence Minister Struck meets with British

German Defence Minister Struck meets with British counterpart

On April 8 German Defence Minister Peter Struck and his British counterpart Geoffrey Hoon met for an exchange of views on the sidelines of the annual Anglo-German Conference, held this year at the Defence Ministry in Berlin. According to information provided by the British Ministry of Defence thirty members of its forces in Iraq have been killed in action or in accidents. Struck expressed his condolences on behalf of the German government.

Struck praised the efforts being undertaken by British forces to improve humanitarian conditions for the civilian population in Basra and the surrounding areas in southern Iraq. Struck noted the high level of approval shown by the population in Basra with regard to the actions being carried out by British units.

With a view to British and German military involvement in Afghanistan the ministers agreed that NATO will need to assume a larger measure of leadership responsibility in the future. At the present time forces from both countries are involved in Operation Enduring Freedom to fight international terrorism and in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Since February Germany and the Netherlands have had joint command of ISAF in Kabul. The German-Dutch joint command of ISAF is scheduled to end in July.

Hoon used the situation in Afghanistan to underscore the excellent state of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries in carrying out peacekeeping missions in the United Nations framework. Speaking at a press conference, Hoon said Germany and Great Britain are closely allied in NATO and in the European Union.

Humanitarian aid for Ira

qDefence Minister Struck considers speculation on possible German involvement in a peacekeeping force in postwar Iraq to be premature. "What is needed first of all is to resolve the humanitarian problems in the country," Struck said, adding that there will be a need to discuss the further situation with Great Britain and the United States in the UN Security Council. Struck noted that if Germany's view with regard to the role to be played by the UN in postwar Iraq were to be accepted there would be no doubt as to German involvement: "I think that under UN leadership Germany would be particularly active in the reconstruction effort," Struck remarked.

On April 7 Struck reiterated his government's view that primary responsibility for the reconstruction of Iraq should be placed in the hands of the United Nations and advocated that the UN also be given responsibility for military security in connection with the reconstruction mission. Struck denied speculation that plans have already been made to provide a 1500-man contingent for a UN-led peacekeeping force.

Anglo-German Conference

The annual Anglo-German Conference (Königswinter Conference) is attended by the defence ministers and state secretaries, high-ranking military personnel, as well as representatives of the academic, political, and media communities. Its purpose is to strengthen bilateral Anglo-German relations.

This year the conference is being held in Berlin on April 8 and 9. Between 15 and 20 participants from each of the two countries will engage in discussions under the heading: "New Challenges - New Strategies".

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