BRUSSELS (AP) — Top officials of NATO and Britain said Thursday they have no plans to get involved militarily in Iraq after Sunni Muslim militants overran much of the north and were pressing toward Baghdad.
During a visit to Madrid, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance had neither a mandate nor a request for action, adding: “I don’t see a role for NATO in Iraq.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague ruled out any military intervention by his country, but said it might provide humanitarian aid. In a BBC interview, he said it was up to Iraq’s leadership to deal with the deteriorating military situation.
Hague said Britain will support any U.S. decision on coping with the crisis. Both countries led the military effort that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
On Wednesday night, the North Atlantic Council, the primary political decision-making body of the U.S.-led NATO alliance, met in Brussels at Turkey’s request so Turkey could inform the other allies about the situation in Iraq, Rasmussen said. Some Turkish nationals have been taken captive in Iraq.
“It was a purely informational meeting,” the NATO secretary general said. “I strongly condemn the violence we have seen in Iraq and the hostages taken. Our thoughts are with the hostages, their families and loved ones.”
“We urge the hostage takers to release the hostages immediately. Nothing can justify this criminal act,” Rasmussen said.