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NATO: Meeting On Iraq Crisis Postponed

Brussels, 11 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- NATO has postponed an emergency meeting scheduled for this morning amid heated disputes over the Iraq crisis. Ambassadors on the policy-making North Atlantic Council are set to meet instead at 4:30 p.m. Prague time (CET) today.

The alliance is struggling to solve an internal rift after France, Germany, and Belgium yesterday blocked plans to send support to Turkey to defend against possible Iraqi aggression in the case of war. The three countries argued it would be a premature signal war has begun and diplomatic efforts have ended.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel today reiterated the stance that reinforcing Turkey would mean accepting "the logic of war."

But Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul again called on NATO to fulfil its obligations to its ally Turkey. "Turkey defended all of Europe during the Cold War. It served as a shield for Europe. Consequently, there is no doubt that NATO must [now] fulfill its commitments."

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw rejected a proposal from France, Germany, and Russia to reinforce weapons-inspection teams in Iraq, saying that no number of inspectors could guarantee Iraq's disarmament.