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Germany Supports U.S. Strikes 'Without Reservation'
F.A.Z. BERLIN. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said on Sunday evening shortly after the missile strikes on Afghanistan began that this country supports "without reservation the U.S. action against terrorist targets" there.
Mr. Schröder spoke after U.S. President George W. Bush called to inform him that the strikes against Taleban targets were to commence, a spokesman for the German government said. The chancellor reiterated his promise of Germany's "unlimited solidarity" to the United States in the war it is leading against terrorism.
The first explosions from the U.S.-led attacks were registered in Kabul at 6:27 p.m. Central European Time, and German politicians immediately began to weigh in with their reactions.
Christian Democratic Union Chairwoman Angela Merkel said she "completely" supported the U.S. action, while Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber, who heads the CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union, echoed the sentiments of a number of state premiers when he said he stood "without limits on the side of the Americans." Mr. Stoiber also promised his party's full support for measures concerning German military support for the U.S. action, a spokeswoman for the state chancellery said.
Mr. Schröder, a Social Democrat, had telephoned Free Democratic Party Chairman Guido Westerwelle even before the strikes began.
"The Free Democrats support the federal government's policy" of solidarity with the United states, Mr. Westerwelle said, adding that the opposition knows and intends to fulfill its responsibility in this situation.
State undersecretaries were meeting on Sunday night at the Chancellery with Chief of Staff Frank Walter Steinmeier to discuss the security issues as a spokesman for Social Democratic German Interior Minister Otto Schily said the minister had instructed security authorities to be at an increased level of readiness and to remain in constant contact with his office. President Bush, meanwhile, warned all Americans living abroad to be aware they could be targeted in revenge attacks. But the Interior Ministry said on Sunday evening that it had no indications of planned attacks in Germany.
The strikes came on the heels of a weekend of party wrangling here over the issue of how Germany should contribute to U.S. retaliation efforts.
The Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor party to East Germany's former communist party, concluded its convention in Dresden by issuing a consensus paper advocating peace.
State party leaders at a meeting of Alliance 90/The Greens in Berlin said they did not rule out the possibility of party support for German military participation in the U.S. actions.
General Inspector of the German Military Harald Kujat thinks it is possible that a large number of German troops could take part in military action against terrorism. At the same time, he demanded more precision weapons, transport planes and surveillance equipment for the army. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, he said the military was "basically" able to make a military contribution on a scale the government considered appropriate.
Earlier on Sunday, the German government demanded that Afghanistan's ruling Taleban regime immediately release eight workers from the aid organization Shelter Now. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the Taleban "itself says the groundless accusations have no connection with current developments. For that reason, the government here expects the staff of Shelter Now to be allowed to leave the country without any preconditions attached."
Dieter Wiefelspütz, the Social Democrats' domestic affairs spokesman told the same newspaper the attitude of the regime in Kabul was "dark blackmail." It was unclear on Sunday night what the fate of the workers might be now that the strikes on Afghanistan have begun.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), October 07, 2001