McInnis attending NATO forum

Congressman to discuss pending war with Iraq

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— Congressman Scott McInnis leaves today for Europe to emphasize the threat Saddam Hussein poses to global and national security.

The Republican from Grand Junction is attending an international forum with other House members and officials from NATO's 19 permanent member countries.

McInnis has been a delegate to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly since 1996. The assembly regularly meets to discuss mundane topics, and the American delegates give a briefing to their colleagues when they return home.

"This particular meeting, for obvious reasons, will be much more intense," McInnis said.

He intends to underscore the reasons for taking action against Saddam's regime and ending Iraq's ability to produce, distribute and use weapons of mass destruction.

The timing of the global meeting suits McInnis.

"We are at a critical juncture in addressing the very serious threat Saddam Hussein poses to our nation's security and to the world," he said.

Also on the table is the recent refusal of three NATO members to give Turkey defensive weapons to fend off an Iraqi attack should the United States and its allies take action against Iraq.

NATO has historically defended member nations that are threatened. Germany, France and Belgium's move to block NATO from preparing to defend Turkey if it is attacked is a reckless decision, McInnis said.

"They have really shaken up the foundation of friendship that we have enjoyed for some 50 years," he said. "It will take some serious counseling from all parties to bring the union back together."

McInnis said denying Turkey the ability to defend itself in the event of an attack sets a disturbing precedent that could erode NATO's credibility.

On Thursday, McInnis signed a letter to French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte that voiced concerns that French actions could undermine the NATO coalition. The letter was sponsored by Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona

The letter urges the French government to reconsider its decision to refuse defensive weapons to Turkey.

"We cannot continue to let a dictator fool the world about the hard cold truth of the situation -- Saddam has no intention of disarming," he said. "We must act, and act now."

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