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blank.gif (49 bytes)08/02/1999, updated at 16:00        blank.gif (49 bytes)weather.gif (982 bytes)archive.gif (946 bytes)search.gif (947 bytes)

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Schroeder Affirms German Commitments at Security Confab

  German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told delegates to the annual Munich Security Policy Conference Saturday that his coalition government "will make its contribution" to fulfilling alliance obligations.

  Schroeder said a key way to strengthen NATO was to bolster the Alliance's European pillar through creating political and military decision structures for the 15-nation European Union (EU).

  "A common security and defense identity is an indispensable building block for the European house," he said, adding: "The new NATO will have a strengthened European pillar and, through this, will be strengthened overall."

  As a means to achieve this, Schroeder called for the post of Western European Union (WEU) Secretary-General to be absorbed by the EU's future "Mr. Europe" who will be in charge of coordinating foreign and security policy.

  Schroeder said he wanted a bigger European role for NATO it was to be welcomed that the United States planned to send a limited number of troops to Kosovo should a peace deal be reached.

  On NATO expansion, Schroeder said "the door must remain open" to further candidates from Central and Eastern Europe. But he said he did not expect any action on potential new candidates at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in April.

  He said that a period of consolidation should follow Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic's joining the alliance.

  Also at the two-day conference, German Minister of Defense Rudolf Scharping said the integrity of WEU and EU will be realized in two years, or at most four years, which is an important prerequisite of efficiently boosting the European security and defense policy.

  For the first time, there is an Asian representation in the meeting, with the attendance of Chinese foreign ministry official Mei Zhaorong and Indian national security advisor Brajesh Mishra.

WorldNews 1999-02-08 Page6

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