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[casi] Belgium to Block US NATO request!
Sunday, 9 February, 2003, 22:26 GMT
Belgium to block US Nato request

Belgium says it will block an American request for Nato to start preparing a
deployment of forces designed to protect Turkey in the event of a US-led war
with Iraq.

Members states have until Monday to state formal objections to the US appeal.

France has also indicated it will oppose the request and wield its veto,
despite pressure from the US

The rift between Washington and what US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
termed "old Europe" threatens to do lasting damage to NATO solidarity,
according to the BBC's Stephen Sackur in Brussels.


"We are going to block it between now and Monday - it is settled," Belgium's
Foreign Minister Louis Michel said.

 "When one has to take a slap in the face such as the insulting remarks... by
Mr Rumsfeld, who comes to teach a thing or two to 'old Europe', the Europe of
democratic values, humanist Europe, the Europe of the Age of Enlightenment,
personally I find that this hurts."

Officials in Paris have repeatedly warned that a Nato deployment at this time
would send the wrong signal - namely that war was inevitable.

But Turkey is nervous about possible Iraqi counterattacks on its southern

Nato's article IV says: "Parties will consult together whenever, in the
opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence of
security of any of the parties is threatened."

The stage is set for a furious behind-the-scenes row at Nato headquarters,
our correspondent says.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he found the moves to
block his government's request "inexcusable".

"I hope they will think differently by the time that they have to make a
judgment tomorrow."

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