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Schroeder rules out military action

Stoiber, left, has accused Schroeder, right, of using the threat of war to win votes
Stoiber, left, has accused Schroeder, right, of using the threat of war to win votes  

BERLIN, Germany -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has repeated his opposition to any military action against Iraq.

Schroeder, on the campaign trail in a bid for re-election in a poll later this month, said U.S. President George W. Bush had left important questions unanswered in his appeal for a U.N. resolution backing any action.

The chancellor told the German parliament on Friday: "My arguments against military intervention remain.

"It is still clear that under my leadership, Germany will not participate in military action."

However, Schroeder backs the international call for Iraq to allow back U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country.

U.S. President George W. Bush puts his case against Iraq to the U.N. (Part 2) (September 12)

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Schroeder defends his stance on Iraq. CNN's Stephanie Halasz reports (September 9)

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He said: "It is good that this aim has been brought back to the centre of the current and, I hope, the future discussion.

"For that we will mobilise all political, all diplomatic and all economic possibilities."

While his anti-war stance may not please the hawks in Washington, it is proving to be a vote-winning policy in Germany.

The latest opinion polls show that Schroeder has raced ahead of conservative challenger Edmund Stoiber, after the pair clashed over Iraq during an election debate earlier this week. (Full story)

A survey by the Electoral Research Group on Friday showed Schroeder's SPD continuing its strong upward trend, rising two points to 40 percent, while the opposition Christian Democrats fell one point to 37 percent.

Klaus-Peter Schoeppner, head of polling institute, Emnid, told Die Welt newspaper: "With his strong course against an attack on Iraq, Schroeder is following a tactically very clever strategy.

"In the current situation around 80 percent of Germans do not want a military strike against Saddam Hussein."

Bush told the U.N. General Assembly, in New York, on Thursday that unspecified action against Iraq would be inevitable unless the U.N. forced Baghdad to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. (Speech)

Schroeder argues that military action against Iraq could undermine regional stability in the Middle East and the unity of the international coalition against terrorism.

He also said he had seen no convincing plan for what would happen in Iraq after military intervention.

He also rejects accusations by Stoiber that he is manipulating fears of war to win votes.

Stoiber, whose campaign strategy so far has been to attack Schroeder's economic policies, told parliament: "Nobody should play politics with people's fears. Nobody in this country, which has suffered two horrific wars, wants war."

But Schroeder said: "Fears and worries about the developments particularly in the Middle East are occupying a lot of people and they naturally expect that the leadership of the country formulates answers to these questions."


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