NEWS

Greeks will not be sent to Iraq war

No Greek soldiers will be sent to fight in Iraq if the decision is taken to oust Saddam Hussein, Athens insisted yesterday, denying that Washington has asked for a second Greek naval vessel to take part in operations off southwestern Asia. «Under no circumstances will we place Greek lives at risk in Iraq,» Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told journalists. «No Greeks will go to Iraq. If there is an intervention in Iraq and the international community supports it following a United Nations decision, Greece will certainly facilitate the international and European undertaking. This help will be of the sort granted during the Afghanistan campaign, that is, [use of] the Souda base or assistance of a similar nature concerning the use of Greek ports.» Papantoniou also denied what the Navy chief of staff had claimed in a Sunday newspaper interview – that Greece has been asked to boost its naval contingent (the frigate Hydra) currently participating in the Enduring Peace operations. «We have not been asked for a second ship,» he said.