Colin needs their help - US seeks European troops for Iraq

Powell is making his last planned trip to Europe as Secretary of State
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is pushing European nations to commit more forces to Iraq at a Nato meeting with foreign ministers in Brussels.
Some Nato members have refused to be part of a contingent being sent to train local forces in Iraq.

Germany reiterated that it will not send troops to the country.

But amid calls for improved ties between the US and Europe, diplomats said President George W Bush will visit Brussels on 22 February next year.

Mr Bush is expected to meet Nato and European Union leaders during what would be the first overseas visit after his inauguration in January.

A spokesman for German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the minister "welcomes the... visit, which means a chance for a new transatlantic consensus".

'Share the burden'

Mr Powell, who will soon stand down as secretary of state, is also expected to ask for more troops for Afghanistan.

The US has offered to place two provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) under Nato command in the country as long as European Nato allies supply two more such teams, each consisting of a few hundred soldiers and civilian workers.

ISAF force in Afghanistan: 8,000 troops, hundreds more wanted
Training mission in Iraq: 60 trainers so far; 300 wanted, plus 1,000 troops in support
Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer opened Thursday's meeting calling for "a fair burden-sharing among allies".

A US official said "a number of countries" were expected to come forward offering training officers and protection troops to the mission in Iraq.

"I would expect three, four or five countries to make new pledges," he told Reuters.

But Germany's Mr Fischer reiterated that it would not be among them.

"Our position is clear and that is we shall not be sending any troops to Iraq," he said, adding that it was already training Iraqi military personnel outside Iraq.

Damaged relationship

Mr Powell has a challenging task on what is set to be his final European trip, says the BBC's Jill McGivering, who is travelling with him.

US assurances that the political atmosphere has sweetened may be undermined if Thursday's talks end with little sign of fresh support from European countries, our correspondent says.

The US wants to beef up the Nato presence in Afghanistan
France, Belgium and Spain have so far said they will not contribute to the Iraqi mission.

On Wednesday Mr Powell said: "I know that some of the president's key decisions these last four years have been controversial in Europe, especially decisions that were made about Iraq.

"Whatever our differences about the past and about Iraq, we are now looking forward. We're reaching out to Europe and we hope that Europe will reach out to us."

Southern neighbours

On Wednesday Nato ministers held an unprecedented meeting with their counterparts from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries.

For 10 years, Nato has been running a programme called the "Mediterranean Dialogue" with Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania.

But Nato admits the programme has only recently become a priority and is seeking to expand it to include counter-terrorism and joint military exercises with these countries.

"The time has come to hold out the hand of friendship, not only to eastern Europe, but also to our friends in North Africa and the Middle East," said Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on a visit to Algeria last month.

God help us they must be getting desperate :roll: :lol:

Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer - were his parents having a laugh :wink:
They're not getting desperate; merely lining up their ducks for an assault on Iran in Feb 06 :evil: Remember folks, you heard it here first!

Jaap de Hoof Scheffer is Dutch for Jack the Hoop Sniffer.
Brakpier said:
They're not getting desperate; merely lining up their ducks for an assault on Iran in Feb 06 :evil: Remember folks, you heard it here first!

Jaap de Hoof Scheffer is Dutch for Jack the Hoop Sniffer.
Just out of curiousity, why Feb 06?
Simple. The yanks need to secure their Lines in Iraq, get a pro-US government in and allow some time for Force Generation. Feb is a good time of the year for offensive ops. :roll:

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