Originally created 01/25/03

US makes formal request for limited NATO help in Iraq

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The United States formally asked for NATO limited help Wednesday in case of war with Iraq.

NATO officials said ambassadors from the other 18 alliance nations discussed proposals based on those presented to the allies informally last month by U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

They include:

-Protecting Turkey from the threat of a counter-strike from the Iraqis.

-Using NATO's planning facilities to coordinate efforts such as air or sea transport for troops and equipment, air-to-air refueling, or even air cover to ground troops.

-Using collective forces such as AWACS surveillance planes, minesweepers or naval patrol ships.

-Providing troops to enforce peace and help rebuild Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime has been toppled.

Rep. Doug Bereuter, the Nebraska Republican who heads NATO's Parliamentary Assembly, said the U.S. would also be seeking base and overflight rights from its allies.

NATO is not expected to play a front line role in any possible military strike, although the United States wants individual allies will join a coalition against the Iraqi leader.

Although European allies are divided about the possibility of war, Wolfowitz's proposals received a generally positive response from the other NATO allies.

However, diplomats stressed the issue was still at an early stage and no immediate decisions were expected to send the proposals to NATO's military planners.

NATO leaders at a summit in Prague in November pledged "effective measures" to ensure Saddam comply with U.N. demands for disarmament and warned Iraq "will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violation of its obligations."

On a visit to Brussels, Bereuter stressed a possible peacekeeping role for NATO after Saddam is toppled.

"It's potentially possible that NATO would have a role in peace enforcement, perhaps even governance" until a new Iraqi administration is able to run the country, he told reporters.


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