The new Social Democrat (SPD) minister said countries with the
technical capacity to help should not refuse.
"Therefore we in the German government have decided not to shirk our
responsibility and to make our contribution. That means getting rid
of part of the chemical waste," he said at a news conference with
his Danish counterpart.
"The German armed forces have the technical capacity to do this in
Munster," Steinmeier said.
Syria has agreed to abandon its chemical weapons by June after a
sarin gas attack last August that Western nations blamed on
President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Damascus blamed the rebels For
It has declared 1,300 tonnes of weapons to the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which is arranging for them
to be destroyed abroad. This week some chemical weapons materials
started moving out of the country onto a Danish ship.
Government sources said Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed the move
with Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on
The decision could be controversial in Germany, which has a strong
pacifist and anti-nuclear movement and has been reluctant to get
involved in foreign missions, especially in the Middle East, since
the end of World War Two.
[to top of second column]
The sources said several hundred tonnes of very diluted materials,
rather than chemical weapons, could come to Munster in northern
Germany, home to a big army base.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; writing by Madeline Chambers;
by Stephen Brown and Elizabeth Piper)
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