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NATO: Ambassadors Meeting Ends In Disagreement

Brussels, 11 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A formal meeting of NATO ambassadors was postponed twice today and then broke up after only 15 minutes with diplomats saying there is no progress in a dispute over planning defensive military measures in case Turkey is attacked by Iraq. Officials say diplomats will continue talks through the night, and the policy-making North Atlantic Council will meet again tomorrow.

NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur gave no details of the talks in Brussels today, but said "a number of options" were discussed.

"There are a number of options that have been discussed. I cannot give you the details right now because, again, there is no agreement and essentially, the talks will continue throughout the night to try and find common ground that could lead to such a consensus."

The 19-nation alliance is trying to resolve a crisis following a decision yesterday by Belgium, Germany, and France to block U.S. and Turkish requests to begin defensive measures aimed at protecting Turkey against a possible attack from Iraq.

The three countries said making the defensive measures now would enter NATO into a "logic of war."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington: "We still are hopeful that a way can be found for the alliance to respond. We are undertaking most intense diplomacy today talking to France and to Germany and to Belgium to see if they would not change their positions because all we are essentially doing is responding to a member nation's request for planning assistance in the event of some trouble that may lie ahead."

He added that "France, and Germany, and Belgium at the moment are using their blocking power for really a different purpose, and that is to signal their disagreement with the approach that we need to bring this to a resolution with Iraq in the very near future in the UN."

In London earlier today, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the case for a new UN resolution on Iraq will be "overwhelming" if a report on 14 February by UN arms inspectors finds Iraq in material breach of UN disarmament resolutions.

The White House said it wants a new UN resolution allowing military action against Iraq despite some European opposition to war.