Germany to decide this week on arming Iraq's Kurds -minister

by Reuters
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 18:54 GMT

BERLIN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Germany will decide this week whether to send arms to Iraqi Kurds to help them battle Islamic State militants, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday, suggesting it might be irresponsible to do nothing.

The European Union last week gave a green light to individual EU governments to supply arms and ammunition to Iraqi Kurds, and some states such as France and the Czech Republic have already pledged to do so.

Sending arms would represent a major departure for Germany, which has largely shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts since World War Two due to its Nazi past.

Steinmeier left Berlin's decision open, but made clear Germany had a responsibility to stand by Iraq's Kurds as they struggling to overcome resurgent Islamic State fighters who have overrun much of the country's north.

"We cannot on the one hand praise the Kurdish security forces, pat them on the back for fighting ISIS on behalf of all of us, then when they ask for help just say 'see how you get on'," said Steinmeier, who visited Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Arbil on Saturday.

"I do not consider that a responsible attitude."

Steinmeier said he would sit down later this week with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and they would "draw conclusions from the information we have from different sources," including from his visit.

"Nothing has been settled yet," he told German broadcaster ZDF.

But he added: "Imagine (the Kurds) continue their fight and then perhaps in two or four weeks they run out of munitions, which is a possibility many people in northern Iraq made clear to me, and then we are not there to give them the chance to continue their fight."

"There are some situations in which by failing to do something you make yourself as guilty as if you had done something." (Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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