13 Oct 06. General seeks UK Iraq withdrawal. The presence of UK armed forces in Iraq “exacerbates the security problems” and they should “get out some time soon”, the head of the British Army has said. Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt told the Daily Mail that the military campaign fought in 2003 had “effectively kicked the door in”. He also said that initial planning for the post-war period had been poor. There are currently more than 7,000 British soldiers in Iraq, based largely in Basra in the south of the country. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Britain had “a clear strategy” and worked with international partners “in support of the democratically elected government of Iraq, under a clear UN mandate.” BBC political editor Nick Robinson described Sir Richard’s remarks as “quite extraordinary”. He said the new head of the British army’s comments “directly contradicted so much of what the government had said”. “I don’t say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them,” Sir Richard Dannatt. (Source: BBC)
12 Oct 06. Top German politicians sent conflicting signals Thursday over whether the government was preparing to take a stake in EADS as a way of beefing up Germany’s interests in the political battle over the European aerospace group. In what appeared to be a slip-up, the mayor of the northern port of Hamburg, Ole von Beust, announced that the federal government had decided to buy the shares in EADS being offered by auto giant DaimlerChrysler. But von Beust’s comments swiftly were qualified by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “As you have probably already heard, the government, and above all the chancellor, decided yesterday evening that the shares being put up for sale by DaimlerChrysler will be bought by Germany,” von Beust told a news conference held with newly named Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois. “It’s certain that the shares will be bought. But what the arrangements will be and who will buy what shares is still being drawn up. I can’t gave you any further information,” von Beust said. However, the mayor appeared to have jumped the gun in making such remarks for in Paris Merkel was quick to qualify von Beust’s assertions. “No decision has been reached yet,” she said following talks with French President Jacques Chirac. “I’m not ruling anything out at present. But if DaimlerChrysler is to sell, it’s very important that we find shareholders who feel committed to the project,” Merkel said. “We will provide political support as quickly as possible. But we can’t provide economic support.” In Berlin, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm took a similar line. “No alternative is being ruled out,” he said. The government had an interest in “stabilising the shareholder structure of EADS so as to safeguard the Franco-German balance”. But private sector solutions were to be given top priority, Wilhelm said. “There has been no decision yet whether the (state-owned redevelopment bank) KfW will take a stake,” the spokesman insisted. The share capital of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company is currently held in a very delicate balance between French and German interests.
12 Oct 06. EU’s Barrot Eyes Military Use for Satellite System. The European Union should consider employing its Galileo satellite navigation program for military uses in addition to the civilian purposes for which it was designed, the EU’s transport chief said on Oct. 12. “Galileo was supposed to be a civilian system only but I wonder whether we shouldn’t question that,” Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told a conference in Luxembourg. “Using it for military purposes, for defense purposes … would be very interesting in terms of paying for the infrastructure and the investment,” he said of the multi-billion-euro project. The program, which will eventually have some 30 satellites orbiting the earth, challenges the