BERLIN (AP) -- Edmund Stoiber, the conservative leader opposing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in elections this weekend, said Thursday he would bar U.S. forces from using German bases for a unilateral war on Iraq.
With tensions over Iraq playing a considerable role in Sunday's national elections, Stoiber has been forced to respond to Schroeder's outspoken opposition to war and his refusal to commit German troops.
Asked during a TV talk show Thursday whether Germany would serve as a strategic staging area for a U.S. attack on Iraq, Stoiber said: "Certainly never if the Americans go it alone."
Stoiber also joined Schroeder in the clearest terms yet in rejecting the U.S. goal of removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Now the aim is to destroy weapons of mass destruction, not the toppling of a dictator," Stoiber was quoted as saying in the Chemnitzer Freie Presse Thursday.
"The United States are without doubt an important country in the United Nations, but the monopoly of action lies not with the Americans, but with the United Nations," Stoiber told the newspaper.
But Stoiber reaffirmed his stand that Germany must be ready to support action against Saddam backed by the U.N. Security Council. Schroeder's view is that any war on Iraq at the present time would be a mistake.
"If it comes about, I believe it is impossible that Germany would stand alone and refuse to accept a U.N. mandate," Stoiber said during the taping of an RTL television show.
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