February 20, 2003
A former Pentagon official helped draft a controversial statement by 10 Central and Eastern European nations this month that supports the United States in its stand-off with Iraq, according to a press report published in Paris.
In an interview, Bruce Jackson, a former US Defense Department official who heads a Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, said that he was among those who helped initiate the statement supporting the US stance, the daily International Herald Tribune reported.
The joint statement by Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia drew a scathing rebuke from France's President Jacques Chirac at a European Union summit meeting in Brussels Monday.
According to the report, it was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, Jackson's organization, that helped distribute the text to news agencies.
"The American influence in all this is vastly exaggerated," said Jackson, who, according to the paper, has played down his role in drafting the statement during a dinner organized at the Slovak embassy in Washington which he said he attended.
The statement "was a product of the Slovaks and really the Latvians", he said.
But, according to the IHT, Kestutis Jankauskas, deputy chief of mission at the Lithunian embassy in Washington, said Jackson played a "considerable role" and helped "initiate the text."
Richard Mucins, counselor at the Latvian embassy in Washington, said, according to the paper, that Jackson suggested the following passage, one of the most compelling sections in the statement: "Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values".
The statement which was published by what is known as the Vilnius 10 on February 5 is considered as a way to help seven out of the 10 countries, which are not yet members of NATO, to join the Atlantic alliance, says the paper.